Zookeepers Reveal The Craziest Thing They've Seen While Working At The Zoo.
Zookeepers of Reddit were asked: "What is the craziest thing you have seen while working at the zoo?" These are some of the best answers.
1/21 Seeing sperm collection from a dolphin really leaves an impression.
2/21 Zookeeper at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore here! One day I was tending the baboon enclosure and a toddler went up and licked the metal bar in front of the enclosure. Since it was February his tongue got stuck to the bar. He was struggling to free his tongue when a female baboon by the name of Cleopatra (Cleo for short) licked the glass of the enclosure while staring at the child. The child's mother got angry at Cleo and started banging on the glass right in front of her. The moral of the story is don't bang on glass.
3/21 I got chased by a penguin that wanted to eat my shoes, a different penguin cuddled me and smushed it's face in my boobs.
4/21 Veterinarians and keepers were working on a sedated female ibex (mountain goat) who was having problems with giving birth. The female had been in labor for hours and was exhausted from trying to pass the baby, which was twisted around so as to prevent it from fitting into the birth canal. To complicate matters the female was a small individual and the baby was large. (Also, although they didnt know it until later, the baby had been dead for several days and was starting to decompose.)
One of the vets had managed to reach up the birth canal and get the baby untangled. The head and front legs were in the canal but the shoulders were stuck and the vet couldnt pull hard enough. She asked one of the keepers to grab hold of the legs and help her pull.
After a few minutes of futile tugging, they decided that they needed more muscle. One of the other keepers present was a big, burly fellow so he was the obvious choice. He was more than happy to help. He was fairly new at the zoo and this was the first time he had ever participated in this sort of procedure.
He knelt down next to the others and got a good grip on one of the legs. Tugging firmly yet gently so as not to cause any damage, they began to pull. Soon someone commented that they could feel it start to move. Suddenly, the babys shoulder gave way and the new keeper found himself holding the unattached leg in his hands. His face expressed quite plainly that this possibility had never crossed his mind; in fact, for a few seconds he looked as if he might lose his lunch.
The vet, however, was thrilled. It was the shoulders that were stuck; if they could get the other one off too the baby would practically slide out. So, having fought once to keep his lunch down, that keeper gamely did the same for the other leg. Only this one was worse because he knew what to expect.
In the end, though, as the veterinarian had predicted, with both shoulders gone, the baby was pulled out easily. And, although she was no doubt sore for a while, the female ibex came through fine.
5/21 Male giraffe drinking female giraffe pee. They do it to determine if the female is ready to mate.
6/21 Probably the best thing was watching my semi-twisted (okay, pretty twisted, but totally amazing) coworker pop crickets and mealworms in his mouth in front of a bunch of kids. He loved making the kids squirm and squeal. Every now and again he'd get one to eat one with him.
7/21 We had an outdoor free-flight bird show. Meaning, well, the birds were free to fly wherever the hell that wanted. Usually that meant to and from keeper's gloves for tasty morsels of treats, but sometimes that meant, well, wherever the hell they wanted.
On this particular day, something spooked our eurasian eagle owl and he took off. Call comes over the radio and a moment later a dozen keepers exploded across the park next to the facility in any given direction to hunt for the guy. We're looking like crazy. And then... KRRSSHH I FOUND HIM! HE'S ON THE RAILROAD TRACKS! BRING A KENNEL!
We run towards the trackers, which were about 12 feet down this sort of open, underground train track tunnel. A keeper is cautiously approaching the owl, when we hear a train horn, look to our lefts, and another train is coming right towards us. I think I stopped mid-step, looked at the guy next to me, and our eyes went to dish saucers. And then we realized it was going exceedingly slow, and we could probably all outrun this thing in full riot gear if we needed to, and if we didn't catch the bird in time, he would just take off again.
But still, no time to dawdle. Zookeepers did what they do, and in what seemed like a second later, one of the keepers had the owl in hand (well, technically I think they had each other in hand, the keeper did get "footed" - which is keeper lingo for the owl grabbed her arm and its talons ripped in), it was into a crate, and we were all hustling up a 12 foot ladder because as fast as the train wasn't going it could still do us great bodily harm. And that was it.
8/21 There were the calls from the public. My favorite was the lady who called us accusing us of sending Big Bird to stalk her.
9/21 All of the spider monkeys that escaped from their island overnight and had to be recaptured. The best part: the last monkey to be captured was by one of the public rides. There was actually debate about whether or not to start the ride while trying to determine if they could fire a tranquilizer without injuring the animal. It finally took someone saying "Do you really want to fire tranqs at the guests?!" before they realized they should probably not start the ride.
10/21 We were transporting a sedated tiger to the veterinary clinic in the back of a van. During the transport, the "sedated" tiger raised his head, placed his mouth around a keeper's lower leg, then fell back asleep. A good solid 20 seconds of "did that just happen?" before the vets pushed another bump of propofol to keep him down until we got him onto the anesthesia machine.
11/21 I've walked into a room and I had no idea they were dissecting a crocodile, not a fun smell or sight.
12/21 So at our zoo we had jaguars in one enclosure and leopards in another separated by a grass walkway. Some momma rabbit decided to have her babies on said walkway and when they decided to leave their nest guess where they went. So the leopard was pretty straight forward and just killed and ate the bunnies right in front of the park guests.
The jaguar however decided to play with his food. To stop the guests from freaking the keepers called in the jaguar to the inside enclosure and went out to find the bunny. After they couldn't find it they figure it was cat food and let the cat back out again. As soon as he was out again he proceeded to dig back up the fury guy he had buried alive and keep on playing with him. My boss was not pleased but trying telling a cat like that no...
13/21 You would not believe how often animals escape. I think in the year that I worked there we had like at least 9 escapes. Most of the time is was the chimps or one of the other apes or monkeys. They would get out and then immediately freak out and hide in the trees next to the monkey house.
We had this old female chimp who was always cranky - she was like 60. The indoor rooms for the chimps had big windows, maybe 5x10ft, made of bulletproof glass. Whenever this chimp would get excited or mad she would run up and kick the window Street Fighter style.
This one time a nine year old boy was teasing her at the window for quite a while, and she was getting pissed. She kept kicking the window and finally kicked it so hard she broke the damn thing right out. Fortunately she freaked out and hid in the corner rather than escaping. I heard the call on the radio and rushed down to the scene. The windows are expensive and not readily available, so facilities just put some plywood in its place for a couple weeks while the window was on order....
14/21 When I was working the long night shift, I once saw a man try to sneak into the gorilla's enclosure with a tube of lube, but security took him out.
15/21 We have this gorilla all at the zoo that I work named Casey, and he can get very very angry. He's very notorious for it and he's a rather large silver back gorilla. People are sick, they are constantly tormenting him, slapping on their chest, and so Casey sometimes throws [poop] (sometimes literal [poop]) at people. And who do the people go to to complain? Us.
16/21 The time I had to tell a women that her child can't go into the hippo area because it's not safe. She had lifted her daughter over the fence.
17/21 The words "excuse me but can you hold my camel?"
18/21 I live in a third world country, got to intern at a zoo for a short while. My fellow interns and I were given a cart full of fish that we had to deliver to the bird enclosure. On the way there, a guy in a zookeeper uniform came up to us, holding a plastic bag. He handed us the bag and we gave him quizzical looks. He got pissed and said he just wanted his share of the fish. He got a couple of handfuls, stuck them in the bag then left.
A few days later, we were assigned to feed the tigers, so we put a whole raw chicken (among other meats) in their enclosure. They played with it for a bit, took a few bites and then left it floating in their (dirty) pool. A while later, we witnessed another zookeeper sneak into the enclosure, fish out what was left of the chicken and then leave.
It really depressed us when we figured out that the workers in the zoo were so underpaid that they had to resort to stealing the animals' food so they could feed it to their families.
19/21 Kid throwing pebbles at Rhino. Rhino decided to "mark" said kid.
20/21 I used to volunteer at a smaller zoo/wildlife rehabilitation center. They had this boar that was mean and needed to have his tusks trimmed. If they're not trimmed they can eventually grow into their skull and kill them. So a few of the normal keepers were all out that day, sick or something, I can't remember. I'm volunteering (picking up [poop]) in a nearby enclosure and they ask if I can help while they sedate the boar to trim his tusks. I'm like, "Sure!"
The guy tells me to grab this metal gate behind me that is leaning up against the enclosure and bring it over to them. Myself, 2 other zookeepers and the vet all pin the boar into a corner with the gate and he is thrashing, trying to get at our legs through the gate with his tusks. The vet injects the boar with some sedative and we hold him there for another 10 minutes while the sedatives kick in. Finally he falls over and they're able to trim his tusks.
21/21 There was a sea lion gay couple in the zoo I used to volunteer in. It was actually practical, because that exhibit had only males (the females were in another exhibit with an alpha male), so when the keepers weren't around, the sea lions had to be kept in individual pools separated by bars. Since those two wouldn't fight, they were put together in the same pool.
Now, sea lions are very easy to distinguish. Not only do they all look different, their calls are completely different. In just one week you can easily learn how to tell their voices apart from a distance.
One of the two was massive, easily towering over the others, all black, with very strong, "masculine" (if you want) facial features and had a very deep, harsh call. He was extremely protective of the other: once I was let inside the individual pools house so I could draw them, and while the other sea lions ignored me after 2 minutes and another, which was my favourite, recognized me and asked me for pats, he went completely berserk, shoved the other to the opposite side of the pool from me and started posturing and trying to scare me away, which is something he never did outside.
The other was tiny, almost the size of a female, blond, with delicate features, extremely shy, like, he would never look anyone in the eye and would hide behind his mate whenever he could, and his call... I have no other way to describe it than it being the [most fabulously flamboyant] sea lion call I ever heard. It sounded like a very high-pitched "woohooo!!"
There comes a time in our lives when we have to cut people out because of their toxic, negative, or destructive behavior. And there's no shame in doing it - tolerance and acceptance can only go so far, and there is always a last straw.
The785 asked: What was the incident that made you cut somebody close out of your life?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.