15 Zookeepers Reveal Behind-The-Scenes Secrets To Keep In Mind At The Zoo

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Animals lovers: vote up the best secrets you'll remember the next time you visit the zoo.

If you love animals and spend a lot of time at the zoo, you might be interested in these zookeeper secrets. The behind-the-scenes reality of the inner workings of a zoo are a little different than you may expect, so keep reading and discover what to know before going to the zoo.

  • 1
    2,033 VOTES

    Safety Fences Are Built Mostly Off Guess Work

    From Redditor u/pirround:

    A lot of the safety fences are based on guesses and have changed dramatically over the years. Zoos keep careful track of how far animals can jump and then adjust their fences based on what other zoos see. When one annoyed tiger jumps across a 33 ft moat or over a 16 ft fence, everyone adjusts things.

    2,033 votes
  • 2
    1,648 VOTES

    Animals Escape Pretty Frequently

    From Redditor u/RedPandaParty:

    Animals escape pretty frequently, but usually, it's no big deal. Unless it's poisonous, deadly, or a bull elephant. Or Rusty the Red Panda at the National Zoo!

    1,648 votes
  • 3
    1,687 VOTES

    A Lot Of Animals Are There Because They Have Nowhere Else To Be

    From Redditor u/landsharkbait:

    I've been working in zoos/aquariums for about 5 years. Not as long as most keepers, but I will tell you some stuff.

    More animals than you realize are there because they have nowhere else to be. Maltreated and former circus animals, exotic pet confiscation, former lab control animals, nuisance wildlife animals. Some have active wildlife rehabilitation centers. Others are born in captivity, generally in other zoos, so we don't take any more out of the wild. Zoos are really important to connect the public to animals they wouldn't normally see and teach them about the environment.

    1,687 votes
  • 4
    1,543 VOTES

    Sometimes Ducks Wander Into Animal Pens And Get Eaten

    From Redditor u/Annepackrat:

    Our male lion occasionally likes to piss on behind-the-scenes visitors.

    Sometimes our animals get "accidental enrichment" courtesy of idiot ducks/gophers/mice etc that get into the larger animals' pens. We had a group of otters take down a mallard that landed in their enclosure. Also, our jaguar cubs had a grand ol' time with a gopher that burrowed into their enclosure. The gopher didn't have a very good time at all.


    1,543 votes
  • 5
    1,940 VOTES

    Sea Turtles Are Lazy And Mean

    From Redditor u/TheMapesHotel:

    Sea turtles are lazy, mean, *ssholes. I worked at a marine center for a while with turtles.

    When feeding them if you didn't put the food directly in their mouth at an angle where it slid down their throats for them they would let it drop and then be upset about it. You would have to skim it out of the tank and keep trying.

    I would have to drive down to clean the 190,000-gallon tank and the turtle in there would bite my butt. He was the only specie of carnivorous sea turtle with a massive jaw so his bite would HURT.

    We did turtle rehabilitation and those lived-in tanks outback. They were like big doughboy pools that had to be drained, scrubbed, and refilled all without removing the turtle. This turtle would wait until there were only a few inches of water then float over and get suctioned down to the drain so I couldn't push the poopy water out and thus couldn't refill the tank. This is a 150 lb turtle that I can't move alone. I'm in knee-high waders, sweating my *ss off in 100-degree heat with 95% humidity and this turtle is eye ballin' me knowing I couldn't do a damn thing about it.

    1,940 votes
  • 6
    1,404 VOTES

    Parts Of Animals That Pass Are Preserved And Used For Education

    From Redditor u/Annepackrat:

    We recycle parts of our animals that pass. We preserve the bones, hides, claws etc and use them as teaching aids for the education department. So if your favorite zoo animal dies there is a good chance that we still have all or part of him behind the scenes in the education department. It's a bit creepy, but it is invaluable in reaching and connecting with people and teaching them about conservation.

    1,404 votes