ZOO KEEPER FOR A DAY

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Come 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 will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays only depending on date offered. Hours will depend on area schedules and are listed under each experience. Areas/experiences will be 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. This will include a special name badge which can go home with the participant, and will also include a picture opportunity with one of the animals with which they worked. Proceeds go to the Jacksonville Zoo and Garden’s 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. 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


Mammals:

African Plains Ultimate Ungulate Experience (Rhino, Okapi, Zebra & Birds)
2017 Dates Available: 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, 2018.

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)
2017 Dates Available: January 19, February 23, March 30, May 4, June 8, July 13, August 17, September 21, October 26,
November 30, January 4, 2018 and February 8, 2018.

Help the keepers safely take care of some of the most dangerous 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)

2017 Dates Available: December 20, 2016, January 24, February 28, April 4, May 9, June 13, July 18, August 22, September 26, October 31, December 5,
January 9, 2018 and February 13, 2018.

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.

Tapir Area within Range of the Jaguar
2017 Dates Available: December 29, 2016, February 2, March 9, April 13, May 18, June 22, July 27, August 31, October 5, November 9, December 14,
January 18, 2018 and February 22, 2018.

Meet tapirs, capybaras and giant anteaters! This area showcases these intriguing species from South America. You will also meet the sloth, as well as participate in a giant otter feeding. You will be assisting the keepers in cleaning their exhibit as well as the night house. Be sure to bring your boots as you will get wet! 7:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

*Participants must be 18 years or older.



Elephant Barn
2017 Dates Available: January 5, February 9, March 16, April 20, May 25, June 29, August 3, September 7, October 12, November 16, December 21,
January 25, 2018 and March 1, 2018

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.

 

Great Apes - * This experience is temporarily closed until the completion of our new African Forest Habitat.*
                                                                               *2018 Dates are To be Determined*


River Valley Aviary (storks, vulture, waterfowl, spoonbills, whooping cranes, herons, Hamerkop, bald eagles)
2017 Dates Available: January 5, February 9, March 16, April 20, May 25, June 29, August 3, September 7, October 12, November 16, December 21,
January 25, 2018 and March 1, 2018.  

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.

 

Emerald Forest Aviary/ Cassowary (pelicans, roseate spoonbills, Orinoco geese, oystercatcher, plush crested jays, inca terns, cuckoo, boat-billed herons, macaws, merganser, cassowary, flamingos)
2017 Dates Available: 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, 2018.

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 dangerous 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.

 

Penguins/ Pelicans (Magellanic penguins, Pink-backed pelicans)
2017 Dates Available: January 19, February 23, March 30, May 4, June 8, July 13, August 17, September 21, October 26, November 30,
January 4, 2018, and February 8, 2018.

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. The penguin keeper also takes care of our pink backed pelicans exhibits. You will get the chance to see what these birds eat too. 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* (Diet prep for the animals) 
Dates Available: December 22 , 2016, January 26, March 2, April 6, May 11, June 15, July 20, August 24, September 28, November 2, December 7,
January 11, 2018 and February 15, 2018

Participate in the preparation of the diets for many of the animals in our animal collection. Nutrition is a very important part of our animal care. The participant will experience many aspects of what it takes to provide the proper nutrition and a well-balanced diet including the basics of diet preparation. In addition to diet preparation, cleanliness of our diet area is very important and is part of the ongoing process throughout the day. The participant will get to learn the reasoning behind the design and delivery techniques of the diets as well as the different tasks required to keep the operation of the area smooth and efficient. Depending on the day, the participant may also experience the arrival of products into the Animal Nutrition Center used to prepare these diets.  7:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

*Due to the use of sharp knives and food prep equipment, participants must be 16 or older.

 

Herpetology - Reptiles, Amphibians & Aquatics:

Wild Florida Herps (reptiles, amphibians and fish native to Florida)
2017 Dates Available:  January 5, February 9, March 16, April 20, May 25, June 29, August 3, September 9, October 12, November 16, December 21,
January 25, 2018 and March 1, 2018.

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 on January 5, February 9, and March 16, The alligators may not be apart of the Wild Florida Experience due to Cooler weather, as well as November 16, December 21, January 25, 2018 and March 1, 2018*

*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)
2017 Dates Available:  January 12, February 16, March 23, April 27, June 1, July 6, august 10, September 14, October 19, November 23, December 28,
and February , 2018.

Work with a very diverse collection of animals from the new world tropics from a huge anaconda to tiny poison dart frogs…from tiny twig catfish to shovel-nosed catfish and freshwater stingrays. 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

 

African & Asian Herps including Komodo Dragons (African and Asian reptiles, amphibians and fish)
2017 Dates Available: January 19, February 23, March 30, May 4, June 8, July 13, August 17, September 21, October 26, November 30, January 4, 2018 and
February 8, 2018.

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.

 

 

Stingray Bay (Cownose, Atlantics, Southern, Bluntnose, Guitarfish & Horseshoe Crab)
2017 Dates Available:  December 29, 2016, February 2, March 9, April 13, May 18, June 22, July 27, August 31, October 5, November 9, December 14,
January 18, 2018 and February 22, 2018.

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 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.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

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

A

Wild animals can be dangerous. You will not be touching or entering enclosures with any potentially dangerous animals such as primates, carnivores, elephants, or other large mammals. Some experiences will involve sharing space with less dangerous species 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 animal contact.

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: hollande@jacksonvillezoo.org