The 3rd week in July is National Zoo Keeper Week!
Zoo keepers do more than just feed the animals and clean their enclosures. Some help design and build the exhibits. Others have to take care of the plants in the animals enclosures. And they all have to learn the animals’ personalities and watch for any changes in diet or behavior. Still others work hard at promoting conservation efforts and conducting research projects. And since the animals need care every day, whether the zoo is open or not, zoo keepers often work weekends and holidays.
Did you know… that zoos have been around since 3500 B.C.? In 2009, archeologists found what is believed to be the world’s oldest zoo in Egypt. The exotic animals included hippos, elephants, baboons, and wildcats.
Around 1100 B.C., King Wen of Zhou (China) kept a 1,500-acre zoo called the Garden of Intelligence (Ling-Yu). King Solomon of Israel and Judah, King Semirami of Assyria, and King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had private zoos. (Roman emperors also had private collections of animals – unfortunately many of them were used in the arena.) During his military expeditions, Alexander the Great sent animals back to the zoos in Greece.
More Zoo Fun Facts:
- It is estimated that over 600 million people visit zoos each year.
- There are more than 2,800 zoos and aquariums in the world.
- Germany has more zoos than any other country – 414!
- The US has more than 350 zoos.
- Over 30 US zoos have more than 1 million visitors a year. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has the most with 9.5 million visitors each year.
- The Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest zoo in the US. It opened on July 1, 1874.
- The oldest running zoo in the world is the Vienna Zoo in Schonbrunn. It was founded in 1752.
- With over 1,500 species, Germany’s Berlin Zoo has the largest variety of animals in any zoo in the world.
- The largest zoo in the US is Red McCombs Wildlife with over 12,500 acres.
Animals haven’t always been the only caged attractions. In 1906, the Bronx Zoo had a human exhibit! A Congolese Mbuti pygmy named Ota Benga was caged at the Bronx Zoo nearly the Monkey House. The exhibit was designed to promote the concept of human evolution. Benga was prompted to carry an orangutan around the cage so that people could see the similarities. Despite several protests, the exhibit was extremely popular. The exhibit finally ended after a few months.
A man went to work for a zoo veterinarian. “Look in the lion’s mouth,” the vet told him. “How do I do that?” he asked. “Carefully,” replied the vet.
Quote of the Week:
“I love acting, but it’s much more fun taking the kids to the zoo.” ~ Nicole Kidman