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You Know You Are A ZooKeeper When

Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years work within zoos.

Way back

Way back in 1969 I attended a keepers 'end of season' party. Everyone was done up to the nines and looked really smart.

A few of the girls looked especially stunning and were dressed in ball gowns. They were unrecognisable as the colleagues I worked with during the day. Then the music began to play and the dancing followed. A waltz to begin with. As one girl swept past me her floor length dress lifted slightly.

She was wearing Wellington Boots.

I knew she was a keeper then

The collection you will find below was first started in the Zoo Biology group way back in 1999. It was so successful it was much copied and added to over the years and appeared in print in a couple of journals. I have done my best to pull the complete collection together here for your enjoyment. Keepers come and Keepers go but sometimes the best laughs are the old ones.

N.B. Much more recently a Facebook Group of the same name appeared (I have no connection other than being a member).

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A Fishy Story

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You Know You are Zoo Keeper When...

You know you're a keeper when you wash your hands BEFORE going to the toilet.

You know you are a keeper when when, having just cooked dinner for your wife or husband, you inadvertently put the plate on the floor!

Or your spouse askes for some water and you bring it in a bowl!

You regularly worm your children!

For your family you disallow flushing after No 2's until checks for colour and consistency have been performed!

You prefer breakfast cereal in concentrated nutrient rich pellets.

Instead of salt and pepper you use vitamin sprinkles!

What your spouse regards as foreplay is actually a check for parasites!

You know you are a keeper when every vacation is planned around does this place have a zoo or how many zoos are there on the way!

You know you are a keeper when on your day off you find yourself at the zoo at 0700 with your children\grandchildren, so they can enjoy the zoo before the visitors start pouring in...

You pick up litter when shopping in town.

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when you go out for a walk in the forest and you either have an almost involuntary urge to pull up weeds and nettles or shovel up horse poo!

you know your a hoofstock keeper when you have your favorite shovel and rake

There is a conspicuous absence of plastic bottles from your recycling bin (despite the fact that you buy cases of them)

you call your kids the same sweet terms you use for the animals (sweet pea, precious).

you bridge your kids after they have done something correctly (Good boy or Thanks!)

the word "shit" is not a bad word.

new rakes and shovels are more exciting than diamonds.

you can be bribed to do anything for chocolate cake.

you sit on a clothes dryer for warmth.

over lunch the discussion involves the consistency of feces.

the casserole at the Christmas party reminds someone of an animals discharge and you eat it anyway..

after work, all you attract are flies.

your tan lines wash off.

your pets greet your shoes and not you.

all your pants have stains where you wipe your hands.

you never shake hands without brushing your hands on your pants.

you walk with a limp because of all the tools on your belt.

your snot is black.

you will eat most anything from the animal cooler as a snack.

you don't even notice that you smell until you get into the car with the windows rolled up to go home.

you think nothing of pulling off ticks while in line at the local fast-food place.

you have two for work and one for the real world.

You get really excited about good solid poop.

You spend all your vacations visiting other zoos.

Half your kitchen equipment and a good portion of your kids toys end up at the zoo.

While walking through a lovely landscaped neighborhood all the vegetation is mentally classified as "browse" and "non-browse"

Nothing is thrown in the trash until carefully screened for enrichment value

Most of your "regular" clothes have animal pictures on them

You eagerly shake hands because YOU KNOW where your hands have been.

You wonder how everyone at the grocery store calls you by your first name (because you have forgotten to take your nametag off)

You lock any and every door behind you.

When you have to apologize more than once to the person who happened to sort the laundry for the dead mouse in your pocket.

when you go to lunch with coworkers and you realize that everyone at nearby tables asks to be moved because of what you are discussing.

Your most cherished gift is a Leatherman Super Tool.

When you store rats and "other" meat in your fridge next to or above your best leftovers. And your in-laws have come to accept it.

When you get in a big hurry because you forgot to thaw rats for feeding and you leave them in the home microwave a little too long.

When you are a female keeper wearing a tank top and some guy asks you if you lift weights.

you think it would be nice to have a drain in the middle of your kitchen floor.

you shop the toy section in Wal-Mart and you don't have kids, you have monkeys. .

a three day weekend means the ground in dirt on your hands is gone.

you leave a trail of hay everywhere you go.

you check to see which way the wind is blowing before dumping anything.

you can make water run uphill, because architects believe all drains should be in the highest corner.

talk of animal's feces does not gross you out while eating.

perfume is offensive while bodily smells are not.

you are not fazed by a fecal sample in the fridge next to your lunch.

you lip-smack when brushing lint off a friend's shoulder.

there are no pictures of you without animals in them too.

(you know you're a chimp keeper when) you food-bark every time you sit down to a meal.

you can identify which species a fecal originated from by smell (often on your hands).

you're routinely tested for internal parasites.

your favorite smells are bleach and disinfectant.

your pets aren't the only ones that receive a rabies shot.

you look better when you wake up than when you get off from work.

taking off your boots at night is better than...well, just about anything.

you will eat most anything from the animal cooler as a snack.

Pick up a Penguin

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you have two for work and one for the real world.

you have more photos of your animal kids than of your friends.

you politely decline to shake hands because you know WHERE your hands have been

your pants and shoes are white instead of tan.

you look better when you wake up than when you get off of work.

you have scars to prove it.

you use an ice chipper as a prying tool

you use a lock as a hammer

you use keys as a screwdriver

you use keys to pull up drain covers

when friends and family get concerned you are in an abusive relationship because of the number of bruises you have all over your body and the fact that it takes so long to try to remember how you got them.

when all it takes to feel sexy is to not have feces on you.

when it's normal for you to have to wash your clothes at least twice to get them clean.

when rainy days are the best days, but the day after rainy days are the worst.

when you can name more animals than friends.

when a hurricane comes and you don't think twice about riding it out with the animals.

you aren't intentially showing your underwear, your radio and tools on your belt just happen to pull your pants down.

people in the normal world say you have the mouth of a "trucker" or "sailor" and you happen to come up with non-cus words to replace them because you realize that the public is watching you.

rakes become shovels for snow.

you have eaten things off the floor in your area, after you have logically thought about it and use the 10 second rule.

You have tasted the food your animals eat.

You sometimes wear a face mask but you aren't in the medical have monkeys and are sick.

You use duct tape for EVERYTHING!

You use cable ties for everything else.

You have extra socks at work for when the hose springs yet another leak.

You don't need to work out because your job is hard enough.

Playing jokes at work consist of cutting the bottoms of containers/ and grain bags. Then kinking someones hose and watching them cus at it.

You can carry a full 5 gallon bucket of water without spilling a drop.

you have sleded on the shovels that you pick shit up work!

You think it is funny to throw feces (with the rake) while raking at a co-worker.

You have been electrocuted by the hot wire..that keeps the Giraffe in.

It is normal to get bit or chased by an animal...sometimes daily.

your radio doubles as a handy hose-rest

Hair-ties are also good temporary rubber washers.

when you can fall in a pile of poop and laugh it off but if your hose stays kinked for more than 2 seconds while you are hosing you go postal!!

You don't need to work out because your job is hard enough

you ask people if they want to see a picture of your baby, and they look at you funny when it's something furry, or feathered, or scaly, etc...

You can hold your tongue (and laughter) when the public asks some of their questions. Gotta LOVE the public.

You find yourself using 10-4 in place of "thank you", "yes", and "okay" in your everyday (nonradio) conversations.

You sometimes feel like MacGyver because of half the stuff you have built from odds n ends.

you have more uses for hay string then duct tape.

you go to the Doctor and while in the waiting room a nurse who you never met asks what animal tried to eat you this time.

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You know when you're a pinniped/cetacean keeper when:

*other keepers comment on your smell

*other zoo staff ask how the seals are (even if they don't know where you work)

You know you are a lemur keeper when in any conversation in any setting upon the mention of the word "monkey" by the other party, regardless of context, you cannot restrain yourself from automatically blurting out "they're not $%^*($#@ monkeys".

Elephant Bath

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If You Think

If you think of any that may have been missed please post in Comments and I will add at the next edit.

Special Thanks

My Special thanks to all those dedicated animal keeping staff who contributed to these over the years.

Interested in Zoos?

If you are interested in zoos then you should check out THE ZOO HUBS for reports and thoughts.


Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 10, 2011:

Thank you kinkajou

kinkajou on May 10, 2011:

Here's a couple extra ones to add.

People go pale when you tell them what it is that's on your clothes or in your hair after getting off work.

People try to stop you from eating the "animal snacks" at pet stores.

Getting funnly looks when talking about the animals you work with forgetting your with non zoo people

Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on June 19, 2010:

mackenzie - If you want it enough you will get it. Good luck for the future.

mackenzie on June 19, 2010:

iv wanted to be a zoo keeperr all my life and im only 10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!lol

valerie delgado on September 27, 2009:

i love animals i need a job it would be great to get a job at a zoo.

kerryg from USA on July 15, 2009:

Hilarious! I've never worked in a zoo, but having spent considerable time hanging around riding stables in my teen years, I can relate to many of these!

Healey on June 10, 2009:

Too true indeed. I was a trainer at the San Diego Zoo for eight years and your Hub brought back so many fond memories. I tried to pick a favorite but couldn't; you listed too many I that I could relate to!

Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on April 16, 2009:

You are not wrong. More truth than lie.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 16, 2009:

These are so funny, but probably much truth in them as well.

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