Friday, September 9, 2011

Comes With The Job

I know I need to put hydrogen peroxide on my hand, but I also know it's going to hurt really bad. It's this tiny little cut, but it's in just the wrong spot on my hand so that every time I grab something or push on something--all the time at work--it splits open again. And work is a really dirty, gross place for a wound that won't stay shut. I'll do it after this post.

Which should be short, because it's just a story. Not even a story, really, just some words.

This morning at the zoo, one of the keepers was in the porcupine exhibit filling in the hole. Porcupines burrow so these guys dig and dig and dig all day long to keep themselves happy. Which is great. Except that it makes the ground unstable because we've no idea where there network of tunnels goes and where to avoid weak spots. And when it's muddy you have to be really careful not to slip into the big hole and into a tunnel. You'd probably never make it out. It's a fear of mine.

Anyway, she was in there trying to fill some of the hole up while the dirt was loose. Some zoo guest on the other side of the exhibit says to her "Went to college just to fill holes?"

People think they're so cute.

We started talking about other stories like this. For some reason, people like to heckle keepers when they're working in exhibits. One of the keepers told a story about when he was cleaning out a moat in an exhibit and a parent said to her child "See, that's what happens when you don't finish school." This keeper spoke up, though, and mentioned he had a degree and the mother hurried away without making a response.

We cleaned out a moat yesterday and people stop to watch. There's a pretty steep incline into the moat and I was climbing up and down with trash bags and  a pair of people stopped to watch and congratulated me on not falling. Which is great, because it means they were probably watching hoping that I would fall. But while we were cleaning, I was thinking about things like those stories. Because I know a lot of people watching you clean a moat--which is super gross--are thinking "What an awful job." "Too bad she couldn't get a real job." Or, if they know about keepers a little bit, "What a waste of a degree."

I want to say a lot of things about these people, and other people who visit zoos, but I won't.

I will say, though, how frustrating it is to hear people talk like this about something I love to do. I wish more people understood what goes into zoo keeping. It's not a backup plan. It's something you work for. It's something you have to love doing. And keepers do; they love it. One today said his internal response to a heckler was "I'd rather do my job than yours any day, and I don't even know what you do."


Today we also talked about the visitors who do really stupid, really obnoxious things at zoos. I won't so much about that either, because it gets pretty mean. I will ask you not to be one of those really obnoxious people at zoos. Don't yell, tap on the glass, bang on the glass, throw things into exhibits or at the animals, really try not to drop things into exhibits, and don't mock the animals. Mostly it just makes you look like a fool.

In other news, all of Magnolia's peripheral lymph nodes are swollen. She probably has some kind of infection. I'm taking her to the vet Monday so I'll ask about it then. Awesome.

In other other news, we moved a box at work today. It looked like a coffin, first of all. It was covered in fire ants and termites and had two large cockroaches and one very large spider protecting its egg sac. I think it was a wolf spider, but spiders are really hard to identify online. It was a pretty horrifying thing to have to move. Related, today I had to check bait boxes--for rats--which is usually not a big deal because the rats do not die nearby. But there was one bait box that had had a nest of roaches underneath it last time. So this time I came armed with roach killer spray. I moved the box and there they were and I sprayed and sprayed. And then they kept coming out of the box. Which I had to pick up and carry back to where we were. It was awful. And there were visitors all over and I was trying to be subtle because I have a bait box for rats filled with roaches, which is just a gross thing to show visitors. But I kept kicking the box to get the roaches to leave. Then I ran with it to get it away from me as soon as possible. Then I had to go back for a second box because it was broken and wouldn't hold bait anymore, but some roaches had also taken up residence in that one. It's so gross. They swarm and they scurry and they're awful.

See, I do things like that just so I can get a good recommendation and someday be a keeper. And it's worth it.

(Most of the time.)

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