Insider knowledge: real zookeeper stories 

by ZSL on

No two days at the Zoo are the same at the Zoo (and it's not always glamorous!). We asked our keepers for the weirdest and most wonderful things they have seen or had to do at the Zoo. Here's just a few of their stories... 

Oni the okapi and keeper Gemma

Oni the okapi's ultrasound 

One of my most memorable moments at the Zoo was with Oni, our female okapi, when we saw her calf on the ultrasound for the first time. This was particulary special as we weren't 100% sure Oni was pregnant. She was moving her lips and it was very exciting as we had been training Oni for an ultrasound for a long time. 

Gemma Metcalf
Deputy Team Leader of Hoof Stock 

Dave with a leech at ZSL London Zoo

A bloodthirsty trio 

Last year, three leeches were mysteriously abandoned outside my local veterinary surgery with nothing but a note that read: ‘Sorry, can’t look after them anymore’. 

We were able to step in and rehome the trio - nicknamed Buffy, Angel and Spike – in our BUGS exhibit at the Zoo, and their story sparked a lot of interest in the lead up to Halloween! 

Leeches may not have the broad appeal of other animals, but they’re incredible ambassadors for the amazing - and more gruesome - abilities of the natural world. 

Dave Clark 
Head invertebrate keeper 


Jessica with llama Ande

Ande's birth 

The most memorable moment for me was probably when Ande the llama was born, five years ago. We’d only weighed mum Dainty that morning and it didn’t seem like she was ready to give birth. So all of the keepers were having lunch and then we got a call to say that she was giving birth. We all run down to watch. And it was great because all of the public were crowding round to watch his first steps.

Jessica Jones

Animal Adventure keeper

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