|'Shovel that ....'|
That's good to hear, and if you're looking for my professional website you can find it here.
Sometimes it happens outside of work too. I recently spent some of my poetry prize money on the 'Keeper for a Day' scheme at Chester Zoo. Add it to your bucket-list. I insist.
As Bill Bryson said about Durham, if you've not been, go there now. Take my car keys.
As soon as I arrived at the Indian rhino house and the keeper thrust a shovel into my hand I knew I was in for a good time.
|Distracting a mother Black Rhino with a carrot|
Not only did Benny lie down and roll over in exchange for a banana, he also backed up a few paces on request so that when he lay down his head wasn't wedged awkwardly against the wall of his shed. There's clever.
If the Indian rhinos were friendly, the Black Rhinos were flighty and jumpy. One of the female babies butted and charged me. They can pack a punch. By the afternoon, though, most of them had accepted me as they accepted the regular keepers and allowed me to feed them carrots as the keepers weighed and monitored their baby's growth. Rhinos can't see very well, of course, so they snuffle around you to get the measure of you with your snouts.
|Feeding the tapirs and capybaras|
Mongoose (mongeese?), capybaras, various deer and whopping big antelopes - much bigger close up than you'd imagine them to be, warthogs ... it was fascinating to muck them out and feed them.
I came away smitten with the rhinos and full of admiration for the keepers. These people know their stuff. Some of these guys have worked with these creatures for years and know everything there is to know about them. They've seen and experienced things the rest of us wouldn't have the first idea about - hand-rearing rhinos, watching them giving birth, watching them die. The next time you see a zoo keeper shovelling shit, don't think, 'Heck, what a job they've got ...' think 'There's someone living out a vocation, someone skilled, professional and thoroughly committed to the animals in their charge.'
|With a hand-reared deer|