Feb 122012

Keepers have been known to play practical jokes on one another, but this one has to take the cake.

In addition to his other duties, one particular keeper was responsible for maintaining a large terrarium located in one of the animal department offices which contained only a solitary snake.

The keeper changed the water daily and offered the snake freshly-killed mice regularly. He never saw the snake move, but it seemed to move around a lot when no one was around, and its appetite was good—the mice were always gone by the next morning.

After several months of this routine, the keeper’s fellow workers let him in on the joke: the snake was a fake. They had been sneaking in when he wasn’t around to remove the mice and rearrange the rubber snake into different positions.

He was rather embarrassed, of course, but did manage to see the humor in the situation. And at the annual zoo staff awards night a few months later he received an engraved plaque commemorating the event. This award, aptly named the Golden Nugget Award, consisting of two pieces of dog feces mounted on the plaque, is awarded annually to the most deserving individuals.

Feb 092012

As an experiment in non-chemical pest control, geckos had been released in several of the animal buildings where cockroaches were a problem. One winter day in the primate house, one of the geckos was sitting on a wall near the public area. One visitor, naturally, had to poke the peacefully resting lizard, which turned and bit down on one of his gloved fingers. The gecko was too small to cause any damage to the visitor’s finger, but it clamped securely onto the glove and refused to let go.

When the tenacious reptile showed no intention of letting go after a few minutes the man summoned help. Keepers weren’t able to get the gecko off either, and they were reluctant to use force for fear of breaking its jaws. Finally, they persuaded the man to leave the glove with them and pick it up later.

Several hours later, however, the gecko was as firmly attached as ever. The keepers ended up taking the stubborn lizard to the animal hospital where it was sedated enough to relax its jaws. No one can recall if the visitor ever returned to claim his glove.