Keeper Diary - April 2008
Of the many skills that can be gained from working as a zoo keeper, team work is surely the one that is most important for the successful management of animals, team morale and completing the projects needing to be done.
This month on Mammals North, this was delightfully shown when we refurbished the roundhouse building, home to the aye ayes and ring-tailed lemurs. The building, perhaps not surprisingly is ‘round’ and houses the aye aye within the interior with the light timing mirroring exactly the night/day hours that they would experience in their native Madagascar. The front outside of the building has a large paddock area with dens attached in which the ring tails another of the many Madagascan lemur species live.
The building was in need of an upheaval and my boss Gerald wanted a more natural looking enclosure, which gave the animals lots of 3D space, which allows primate species the best way of utilising a space.
The first job sticks in my memory as the worst, this was simply the slog of removing everything from the old enclosure, but, with team work we formed a chain and this was done in only two days. Then we began the more fine work of design and implementation of the branch work. The branch work required team work that would have made the ancient Egyptians content, as we lifted in very large trees, dicing with the balance and sheer weight of the giants at all times.
After that we attached smaller branches to give a more forest like outward appearance as well as giving the animals a great number of jumping and perching points. Finally the substrate of natural bark chip went in, about 150 bin loads! Needless to say we all slept well that week, but, it was well worth the effort and a delight to see the animals go back in and begin exploring the world that we had created for them.