ZOO KEEPER FOR A DAY

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Be a Zoo Keeper for a Day at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens 

Do you love animals? Have you always dreamed of being a Zoo Keeper? Are you curious about what goes on behind the scenes at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens? If so, then now’s your chance to discover the Zoo’s “secret” world!

You can have the opportunity to join us on one of many “Zoo Keeper for a (half) Day” experiences. You’ll meet some of the animals up close and personal and learn first-hand about what it takes to care for our awesome animal residents. You’ll roll-up your sleeves to work with expert keepers meeting the daily requirements of the wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and many other species. You’ll go inside the animal enclosures (while the animals are secured inside their holding areas) and experience the same unique view the animals see as they watch Zoo guests watching them!

Click here to see Channel 4 reporter, Crystal Moyer, and her Zookeeper for a Day experience!

Keeper for a (half) day experiences are offered on days of the week and times noted within each specific description below. Areas/experiences are offered on a rotating schedule with a few offered each week.

The minimum age for participation is 14 years unless otherwise specified. A parent or guardian may be required to accompany participants under 18 years of age (at no additional charge). Each experience below will state if a parent/guardian is required (subject to change). The parent/guardian will need to also provide proof of a negative TB test within 12 months of the scheduled experience, as well as sign the Liability and Social Media Policy forms. 

Cost is $125.00 and includes Zoo admission. Guest keepers will receive a special name badge which can go home with the participant. The experience will also include a picture opportunity with one of the animals with which they worked. Proceeds benefit the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and the Jacksonville chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) to help support their various conservation projects.  

Click here to register! All participants must sign a Liability form and Social Media Policy form and will be expected to provide proof of a negative TB test within 12 months of their scheduled experience. Upon registering, participants will receive guidelines on what to expect. Completed paperwork must be received by the Zoo a minimum of one week prior to the date of the experience confirmed. Participants will be expected to behave and dress professionally as they are representing the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Use of cell phones and cameras will not be permitted while working. Zoo staff reserves the right to reject a participant or end the experience early for inappropriate behavior or attire. 

 

Cancellation Policy

All sales are nonrefundable. Please provide at least 72 hours' notice for a cancellation and/or to reschedule your Keeper for a Day experience (subject to current availability).

 

AAZK/JZG Keeper for a (half) Day Opportunities-
(Please note: All Keeper for a Day Experiences Must be Scheduled 2-3 weeks in Advance)  


Mammals:

African Plains Ultimate Ungulate Experience (Rhino, Okapi, Zebra & Birds)
2019 Dates Offered:  Thursdays, January 17, February 21, March 28, May 2, June 6, July 11, August 15, September 19, October 24, and January 2, 2020.

Help the keepers give the best care possible while being up close to a striking mix of hoofed and feathered animal species. Getting a little messy is half the fun. 7:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.



Predators of Africa Experience (Lions, Leopards, Cheetah, and Warthog)
2019 Dates Offered:  Thursdays, January 24, February 28, April 4, May 9, June 13, July 18, August 22, September 26, October 31, December 5, and January 9, 2020.

Help the keepers take care of some of the strongest and most impressive mammals in Africa. Prepare to get roared, growled, and hissed at by these big beasts. 7:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.



Wild Florida Mammal Expedition (Florida Panthers, Coyotes, and more)

2019 Dates Offered: Tuesdays, January 29, March 5, April 9, May 14, June 18, July 23, August 27, October 1, November 5, December 10, and January 14, 2020.

Encounter some of the most locally endangered mammals and help the keepers contribute to preserving Florida’s beautiful wildlife. 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.



Range of the Jaguar Mammals - 
*This experience is temporarily unavailable.*



Elephant Barn
2019  Dates Offered:  Thursdays, January 10, February 14, March 21, April 25, May 30, July 4, August 8, September 12, October 17, November 21, and January 30, 2020.

In the Elephant and Giraffe barn, you will work alongside keepers as they care for the largest and tallest of all the land mammals. You will learn what it takes to care for these giant animals and just how many hundreds of pounds of hay African Elephants can eat in a single day. What goes in must come out; keepers fill an entire trailer full of discarded hay and feces all before lunch time. You will join keepers in cleaning the exhibits and setting out food and enrichment for these magnificent animals. Observe elephant training sessions (the keepers’ favorite time of day) and perhaps feed a giraffe as they are put on exhibit. Expect the unexpected but prepare to go home smelly, tired and with a new love and respect for these truly amazing creatures. 7:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.

 
Bonobos

2019  Dates Offered:  Tuesdays, February 5, April 16, June 25, September 3, November 12, and January 21, 2020.

Spend your morning helping the bonobo keepers in the amazing new African Forest exhibit. To start the day you will meet the bonobos and learn the layout of the new Bonobo Complex. A large part of the morning will be spent cleaning on and off the exhibit spaces. You may participate in diet preparation and/or be tasked with preparing enrichment that keeps the bonobos active throughout the day. Observe training sessions and learn how keepers use training to facilitate husbandry and medical care. Be prepared for loud noises as bonobos are very vocal animals! 8:00 am - 12:00 pm.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.


Gorillas & Company
2019  Dates Offered:  Tuesdays, March 12, May 21, July 30, October 8, and December 17.

Spend your morning helping the gorilla keepers in the amazing new African Forest exhibit. To start the day you will meet the gorillas, mandrills, and colobus monkeys and learn the layout of the new Gorilla Complex. A large part of the morning will be spent cleaning on and off the exhibit spaces. You may participate in diet preparation and/or be tasked with preparing enrichment that keeps the primates active throughout the day. Observe training sessions and learn how keepers use training to facilitate husbandry and medical care. Be prepared for loud noises as bonobos are very vocal animals! 8:00 am - 12:00 pm.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.


Birds:

River Valley Aviary (storks, vulture, waterfowl, spoonbills, whooping cranes, herons, Hamerkop, bald eagles)
2019 Dates Offered: Thursdays, January 10, February 14, March 21, April 25, May 30, July 4, August 8, September 12, October 17, November 21, and January 30, 2020.
 

This is a free-flight aviary that guest walk through and enjoy a variety of species. The aviary has a waterfall and walkways that cover the flowing stream that runs through the aviary. Some of the other exhibits you will experience have a pair of endangered whooping cranes and a pair of bald eagles. Working with these beautiful birds will give you the opportunity to get a closer look at how the keepers care for the needs of our animals everyday here at the Zoo; you will work side by side with the keepers and get a true idea of what it takes to be a Zoo Keeper. 7:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.

 

Emerald Forest Aviary/ Cassowary (pelicans, roseate spoonbills, oystercatcher, plush crested jays, inca terns, boat-billed herons, macaws, merganser, cassowary, flamingos)
2019 Dates Offered: Thursdays, January 17, February 21, March 28, May 2, June 6, July 11, August 15, September 19, October 24, and January 2, 2020.

This is a free-flight aviary that guest walk through and enjoy a variety of species. The area showcases our South American bird collection and has under water viewing for giant river otters. You will also have the opportunity to feed our flamingos and get up close to our cassowary. Cassowary can be very aggressive so we do not go in his exhibit while he is in there. We have trained him to move from his exhibit to an area near his night quarters so that you and a keeper can go in and service the exhibit. You will have the opportunity to give enrichment to the birds in the aviary as they free roam on the guest path. 7:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.

 

Penguins (Magellanic penguins)
2019 Dates Offered: Thursdays, January 24, February 28, April 4, May 9, June 13, July 18, August 22, September 26, October 31, December 5, and January 9, 2020. 

For this Keeper for a (half) Day experience you will be working with our penguin keeper on our penguin exhibit and in our penguin night area. Our penguins do not stay on their exhibit overnight. They go in to a back up area overnight which has separate stalls, nesting boxes and its very own pool for the comfort of our penguins overnight. You will help clean the area inside and outside as well as prep the fish for the penguin feedings and learn how we sneak vitamins in to the fish we give the penguins. You will get to learn the names of the individual penguins as you record the feeding for our penguin keeper. 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.


Animal Health:

Animal Nutrition Center - *This experience is temporarily unavailable*

 

Herpetology - Reptiles, Amphibians & Aquatics:

Wild Florida Herps (reptiles, amphibians and fish native to Florida)
2019 Dates Offered:  Saturdays, January 12, February 16, March 23, April 27, June 1, July 6, August 10, September 14, October 19, November 23, December 28, and February 1, 2020.

Work with our Wild Florida keeper taking care of Florida’s native reptile and amphibian species (plus a few others) including threatened indigo snakes, alligators and our 140 pound snapping turtle. Help prepare and feed out salad and invertebrate diets, help keep habitats and animals clean and healthy. 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

*Please note due to cooler weather, the alligators may not be a part of the Wild Florida Experienceon the following dates, January 12, February 16, March 23, November 23, December 28, and February 1, 2020.*

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.

 

Range of the Jaguar/Emerald Forest Aviary Herps (Central/South American reptiles, amphibians and fish)
2019 Dates Offered: Fridays, January 25, march 1, April 5, May 10, June 14, July 19, August 23, September 27, November 1, December 6, and January 10, 2020.

Work with a very diverse collection of animals from the new world tropics including Poison Arrow Frogs, Coahuilan box turtles, Matamata turtles, boas, aquatic caecilians, freshwater stingrays and several species of Freshwater fish. 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.


African & Asian Herps including Komodo Dragons
(African and Asian reptiles, amphibians and fish)
2019 Dates Offered:  Sundays, January 20, February 24, March 31, May 5, June 9, July 14, August 18, September 22, October 27, December 1, and January 5, 2020.

Help take care of the non-venomous portion of our African reptile and amphibian collection including two giant rock pythons, lizards, and tortoises, as well as frogs- from the African bullfrog (one of the world's largest) to the tiny Mantella frog (one of the world's smallest).  In addition, help care for the amazing Komodo dragon. 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.

 

Amphibian Conservation Center, Conservation in Action
2019 Dates Offered:  Tuesdays, January 29, March 5, April 9, May 14, June 18, July 23, August 27, October 1, November 5, December 10, and January 14, 2020.

 

Participate in one the the Zoo's most important conservation projects. Set up as a breeding and research lab, Save the Frogs includes one room fully dedicated to the critically endangered Puerto Rican Crested Toad, which we breed and send tadpoles directly to Puerto Rico for release into the native environment. Another room is dedicated to southeastern US native species such as the striped newt and the gulf coast waterdog. There are lots of other amphibians as well, on display in the center room. Be a part of something truly important and play an active role in amphibian conservation. 8:00 am-1:00 pm.

*Participants aged 14-17 years old will require a parent/guardian to also attend the experience (at no additional charge). The parent/guardian is required to complete the necessary paperwork, as well as show proof of a negative TB test result.

 

Stingray Bay (Cownose, Atlantics, Bluntnose, and Guitarfish)
2019 Dates Offered: Tuesdays, January 8, February 12, March 19, April 23, May 28, July 2, August 6, September 10, October 15, November 19, and January 28, 2020.

Come join us in the wonderful world of aquatics. Learn what it takes to maintain a 17,000-gallon saltwater exhibit that is home to some of the world’s most magnificent creatures of the sea. 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

*Participants must be 18 years or older.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

Will I get to pet or go in with the animals?

A

Wild animals, of course, can be dangerous. You will not be in contact with any potentially harmful species such as primates, carnivores, elephants, or other large mammals. Some experiences will involve sharing space with animals that are safe to be around, such as in our free-flight bird aviaries and some of the herpetology areas. Participants are expected to follow the instructions of keepers at all times regarding any animal interactions.

Q

What should I do to participate in Keeper for a (half) Day?

A

To participate in Keeper for a (half) Day, you must:

  • Be able to lift 40 pounds,
  • Be able to work in adverse weather conditions (rain, heat, cold),
  • Be able to traverse Zoo grounds on foot,
  • Be able to bend, lift, rake and sweep without difficulty.

Q

What if I get sick? Can I reschedule?

A

Participants will be offered a chance to reschedule free of charge if they are ill. They are expected to take advantage of this opportunity, as we do not want to expose our animals or keepers to illness. They will be given preference for rescheduling. Participants who arrive demonstrably ill may be sent home.


 

For more information, please email: keeperforaday@jacksonvillezoo.org