I love zoos. I love them I love them I love them.
At the end of the day the keeper I was with asked me how I felt, thoughts, feelings, etc. I said:
I'm just really excited. And I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be and it just feels great to be in a zoo again.
That's exactly what it is. Exactly. It just feels right.
And that's weird. Because there are a lot of things about zoo keeping that one would think are reasons to be completely not excited about the whole thing. First, the amount of poop you deal with. The amount of stink that comes off animals just by them existing. Foxes, for example, are extremely stinky creatures. There is a lot of cleaning. Scrubbing-type cleaning. Lots of hoses. Which I guess doesn't seem like a big thing, but if you wind up enough hoses in a single day, it gets pretty irritating. There are bugs. There are always flies, there are sometimes maggots, the craziest looking spiders tend to love zoos, and of course, there are cockroaches. Lots and lots of cockroaches.
Here's a story for you, about the cockroaches. We fed the tigers. We let them out. We walked down the hall to let the bears out. We came back. The tiger had not finished his breakfast and there were eight cockroaches on the meat that was left on the floor. Eight. They live in every crevice. The thing about cockroaches, I'm not really more comfortable around them when they're dead. When they're alive they move so fast you don't always see them, but when they're dead you get a chance to really look at them and it's just awful.
Back to the job. It's such a weird, physical, gross job. And you have to have a degree. You have to have experience. A lot of experience. I met a girl working there today who did five internships and went back to school to get her masters--in zoo stuff--before she got a job. And then the pay is miserable to average. But people fight for these jobs. People do five unpaid internships and go back to school to get these jobs.
But you know what I did today?
I gave two elephants a Werther's candy. I held them in my hand and they took them from me with their trunks and sucked on a little bitty candy for a while. And that's awesome. That's worth it. To make eye contact with an elephant, to see it be happy, worth it, worth just about anything.
There is a white tiger, his name is Adee, who gets to be spoiled and eat as much as he wants and come inside whenever he doesn't want to be on exhibit.
There are also sun bears, lions, Amur leopards, a type of pig I can't spell the name of, porcupines and storks. And some feral cats that live with the porcupines, apparently.
Here's the caveat to my zoo stories: I can't publish things which aren't common knowledge. This blog is public so I can't put details and some stories here. Or behind-the-scenes pictures, if there ever are any. So! This means that if you would like detailed zoo stories I will have to email them to you. If you would like to be included on that email list, lemme know. I started this blog for a lot of reasons, but one was to not clog up inboxes with stories. I'd like to not go back to that but I can't publish some stories here and while it's likely no one would ever stumble upon this, if they did I could get into some trouble and that would not be the best way to get a job.
I was going to write about free contact versus protected contact and a lot of things that came up today, but I'll save it for another time. I'm getting tired already and I have some reading to do. Maybe some knitting.
I'm in a really happy place right now, in case you couldn't tell.