Feb 122012

A keeper entering a small, outdoor cage housing an old, solitary European wildcat opened the door a little too wide and the cat darted out. The cat raced across the open mall at full speed and took refuge in the doorway of another exhibit building several hundred yards away.

The frantic keeper quickly rounded up some nets and several other keepers. They raced across the mall and surrounded the doorway. Nets at the ready they advanced slowly, expecting the cornered cat to burst out of its hiding spot at any moment.

They needn’t have bothered. The cat was sprawled in the corner — completely exhausted from his sprint across the mall. He didn’t move a muscle as the keepers simply walked up and put the net over him.

Feb 112012

A young girl and her mother asked if they could stay after closing to watch keepers feed the mountain lions on a day when the animals received freshly-killed rats in addition to their normal diet. The girl was considering a career as a veterinarian and they felt that this might be an educational experience for her.

After explaining to the visitors what they could expect, the keepers presented the mountain lions with their meals. The cats ignored the feline diet and went directly for the rats. The mother and daughter, fascinated, looked on. The larger of the two cats quickly scooped a rat into his mouth and crunched down on it. He gave the mangled body a vigorous shake, flinging the entrails through the cage front and into the public area, missing the young girl’s face by a matter of inches. She let out a startled squeal and turned a little pale, but she didn’t lose her nerve. She stuck it out until the mountain lions finished.

To this day those keepers wonder if that plucky little girl ever became a veterinarian.

Feb 092012

Workers renovating a bear den were made a bit nervous by the presence of the den’s regular occupant in an adjacent den. The door between the dens appeared sturdy enough—it was made of heavy metal with only a small, heavily-barred window. The bear, however, was watching them intently through the window and occasionally would pound on the door or even reach his plate-sized paws through the window. The workers were concerned that should anything happen it would be difficult for all of them to evacuate the stall quickly through the one small access door.

The final straw came when the workers noticed several inches of claws protruding from gaps between the door and the wall on either side of the door. They decided that it was time for a break, packed up their tools, locked up the den, and left. When they returned a few minutes later, they discovered that the bear had torn the door loose and was loose in the den that they had only recently vacated.

Dec 222011

One winter after a heavy snow, night keepers reported for several nights in a row that they had caught glimpses of what appeared to be an arctic fox near the small, moated grotto that housed that species. Each morning, however, keepers found all of the animals present and accounted for. It was assumed that the animal the night keepers were seeing was a native fox.

Finally one night, however, the night keeper turned a corner and managed to get a good look at the elusive animal in the headlight beam. It was definitely an arctic fox. As the keeper watched, the fox darted back to the grotto and jumped easily back in, where it was calmly waiting the next day to be counted.