People go to zoos to get a glimpse of the wild side, but behind-the-scenes stories from zoo employees take you on the real safari. For every zoo patron story about a pooping and/or mating animal, there exist dozens more crazy zookeeper stories more outrageous than anything on Animal Planet. The wildest stories from zookeepers, featuring characters ranging from feisty primates to killer kangaroos, showcase the drama you never realized was happening while you were holding your child over the fence of the gorilla enclosure. Because when animals get loose, it falls on the zookeeper to keep the peace. While the occasional tragedy goes down at a zoo, these funny zookeeper stories highlight the positive things that sometimes happen when you put wild animals in controlled spaces.
Thanks to the wonder of Reddit, zookeepers have shared their best stories for all to enjoy. The next time you go to the zoo, not only will you marvel at the animals, you'll also marvel at the employees who put up with more grief and feces than you ever see at your local dog park.
You Learn Stuff In The Outback
"I've got a number of great stories from my years at the St Louis Zoo. Once a pack of four stray dogs got onto the zoo grounds. Security tried for a couple of days to catch them, to no avail. The dogs attacked and killed a small antelope one night. During the summer, we would leave certain animals out all night with the door open to allow them to go in and out.
Since the dogs were loose on the grounds, we had orders to get all animals inside. We were able to get all our assigned animals in except for the kangaroos for some reason. The boomers (males) kept herding the rest of the herd against the far wall of the yard. No matter how hard we tried, we just couldn't get the whole herd to cooperate. We left them outside, crossed our fingers and went home.
Early the next morning we walked in the Antelope House to find all of the roos in their cage. All were standing very alert and looking out of their door into the yard. We also noticed that four or five of the boomers had blood on their feet and forepaws. We ran out into the yard expecting to find a dead kangaroo or two.
We found four dead dogs."
Jaws: Jungle Edition
"We were transporting a sedated tiger to the veterinary clinic in the back of a van. During the transport, the 'sedated' tiger raised his head, placed his mouth around a keeper's lower leg, then fell back asleep. A good solid 20 seconds of 'did that just f*cking happen?' before the vets pushed another bump of propofol to keep him down until we got him onto the anesthesia machine."
It's A Hard Rock Life
"During penguin nesting season, I once saw a rockhopper couple who had built a nest way up high at the top of a mountain of rocks. The lady of the house decided that she needed to redecorate the home and sent the male to find a suitable rock to add to the decor. As he hopped down the rocks, he was squawked at and pecked at by several other rockhoppers with nests, getting beat up all the way down to the ground where he started looking for pebbles. He found one he liked and ascended up the mountain to once again brave the very territorial, biting, screeching rockhoppers along the way. He laid the pebble down for his Mrs...
And she slapped the sh*t out of him. She hated it.
Immediately getting the point, he returned for a third pass at now even more pissed off rockhoppers back to the ground. This time, he was not playin'. He spent a good 10 minutes looking for a rock that he liked and BOOM! There it is!
He tried to pick the rock up and immediately dropped it. He tried again and drops it. He tried one final time and it was just too big for him to carry. So his response?
He threw his head back, flailed his flippers about, and cried to the sky. I did not see him return home for the rest of my shift."
Don't Tease The Chimps
"We had this old female chimp who was always cranky - she was like 60. The indoor rooms for the chimps had big windows, maybe five-by-10 feet made of bulletproof glass. Whenever this chimp would get excited or mad she would run up and kick the window Street Fighter style. This one time a nine-year-old boy was teasing her at the window for quite a while, and she was getting pissed. She kept kicking the window and finally kicked it so hard she broke the god damn thing right out. Fortunately she freaked out and hid in the corner rather than escaping. I heard the call on the radio and rushed down to the scene. The windows are expensive and not readily available, so facilities just put some plywood in its place for a couple weeks while the window was on order."