Keeper’s Eye View

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Zoo InternQuest is a career exploration program for high school students. For more information see the Zoo InternQuest Journals. For more photos see the Zoo InternQuest Photo Journal.

A lot of people don’t know that the mallards, white egrets, and the blue herons that are found in the bird enclosures aren’t actually a part of the bird collection (which last year contained more than 1,890 birds). In fact, these free loaders steal food from the birds in the collection. Which makes a bird keepers job all that more difficult because they have to make sure that the bird in the collection get fed and that the moochers don’t steal their food.

As Josh Zelt, a Bird Keeper at the Zoo, fed the flamingos and various freeloader ducks he provided us with some interesting tid-bits. It’s a well known fact that flamingos get their famous coloration from the crustaceans they eat, but what a lot of us didn’t know was that you could tell a mother flamingo apart from the rest because they are paler than the rest. This is because she gives her nutrients to her chick before she eats.

For me, it was very impressive to find out that Mr. Zelt got his job by working his way up. Instead of being hired on as a keeper, Mr. Zelt got hired as a building and grounds attendant nearly nine years ago. Thanks to his hard work and determination, he is a bird keeper now.

Perhaps it was only the fact that he was carrying food, but the way these birds flocked to Mr. Zelt, you would swear that it was something more. It was obvious in the way that Mr. Zelt spoke about these birds that he cared for each and every one of them as they were his own children. I can only hope that whatever job I end up doing, I enjoy it as much as Mr. Zelt enjoys his.

Regina, Photography Team

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