Meet the keeper: Anusia Acus, Whipsnade Zoo

by ZSL on

In this spring’s edition of Wild About magazine, Zookeeper Anusia Acus shares what makes Whipsnade’s hippos so special. Here she lets us in on her life as a Zookeeper.

Zookeeper Anusia Acus with giraffe Bashu

What’s it like to look after some of the world’s biggest animals?
A total privilege! There's something magical about witnessing incredible moments only a handful of people can actually say that they've seen. The first time a baby rhino gets to its feet, or a giraffe clicks with its training and stands still to let us take a blood sample – working with these giants brings me so much joy.

Who are your favourites at Whipsnade?
I love our brilliant bunch of hippos but my other favourites are the giraffes. I’ve spent a lot of time working with them and training them individually and it’s so rewarding to see them progress. Lately Bashu, our male, has been learning to present his front hooves on a block for x-rays and nail trims. This means we can keep his feet in tip-top condition without any discomfort – and that he receives one of the world’s biggest pedicures!

When did you know you wanted to work with animals?
From a very young age. I fell in love with dogs and horses from the get-go and knew I needed to work with animals – big or small. At the age of seven I was riding horses every weekend and by my teens I was looking after Rasputin, a retired police horse. He was a bit of a scaredy cat, which had ended his career, but started our journey together. 

What do you think surprises people the most about being a zookeeper?
That we really have to think on our feet. We’re faced with a lot of different situations that require us to respond quickly; if an animal is injured, or there are complications at a birth, we need to react – and we need to get it right. We see the whole circle of life for our animals, it’s amazing but a massive responsibility.

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had as a keeper?
Witnessing the birth of our giraffe Khari in 2019. I was there from start to finish. From seeing these little hooves emerging, to a beautiful, slightly wobbly, calf four hours later taking his first suckle from mum Luna. It was a magical experience, I’ll never forget it.

What do you do when you’re not at the Zoo?
I love being out in nature. I go for long walks across fields, woodlands, and my local nature reserves, looking out for birds and trying to identify them. There’s nothing better than a nice walk with good company – whether that’s human or dog.

What are you most proud of?
That I’ve proven I can achieve what I set out to do. All I’ve ever wanted is to work with animals and, after years of volunteering and building up my experience, I’ve climbed the ladder and now I’m a qualified keeper. Sometimes it may take a while, but with enough determination and hard work, you get there in the end.

Gold members, Fellows and Patrons can read Anusia's interview about Whipsnade's hippo family in this spring's issue of Wild About magazine. 

Select a blog

Careers at ZSL

Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!


We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.


From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.


A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.

Artefact of the month

Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.

Wild About

Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.

Chagos Expedition

The Chagos archipelago is a rare haven for marine biodiversity. Hear from the team about our projects to protect the environments in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

Asia Conservation Programme

ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.