Caring for the animals is one of the most important and most rewarding jobs at the Indianapolis Zoo. However, it can also be one of the dirtiest. Indiana First Lady Cheri Daniels found that out first-hand when she became a zookeeper for a day earlier this summer for her 25th assignment with Cheri’s Chores on 97.1 HANK FM’s Mornings with Dave O’Brien. Check out the video of Mrs. Daniels’ visit.
Summers are the busiest time of year at the Zoo, so the Zoo’s staff put Mrs. Daniels right to work with tasks that are part of the day-to-day operations at the Zoo.
She began her day of zookeeper chores in the Budgie Aviary in the Zoo’s newest exhibit, Flights of Fancy: A Brilliance of Birds presented by Citizens Energy Group. There, she fed some of the budgies while Flights of Fancy Area Manager Dan Boritt explained the importance of monitoring the birds’ diet. While Zoo guests have the chance to feed the budgies, as well as a few other bird species in the exhibit, Boritt said that is only a sampling of what the budgies eat in a day. Zoo staff supplement with additional foods to ensure the birds are eating a well-balanced diet.
From there, Mrs. Daniels’ whirlwind day continued behind the scenes in the rhinoceros barn in the Plains area where she got to clean up after a few of our residents. Plains Senior Keeper Amber Berndt explained that, while rhinos have a reputation for enjoying a little dirt and mud, Zoo staff clean their stalls and provide new bedding regularly throughout the day. Bath time is also a routine part of animal care (but Mrs. Daniels didn’t get to experience that dirty job!)
The first lady’s last stop of the day was the kitchen in our Marine Mammal area where she helped to prepare meals for the dolphins. Marine Mammal Trainer Alicia McCarthy explained that the Zoo’s Director of Nutrition Services, Jason Williams, helps design diets specific to each dolphin. By picking and choosing what types of fish each the dolphins receives, Zoo staff can ensure that the nutritional needs of the whole pod are met.
Special thanks to Mrs. Daniels, Dave O’Brien and the whole Cheri’s Chores team for accepting the challenge to become a zookeeper for a day.
Let’s hear from you!
If you could be a zookeeper for a day, what job would you like to do?