Feb 112012

A keeper taking a load of uneaten, urine-soaked hay out of an exhibit set the wheelbarrow down and turned to close the gate. A teenage boy reached over to grab a handful of hay to toss in to the animals. The keeper could see what the boy was doing out of the comer of his eye, and deliberately took his time in closing the gate.

When he turned back to the wheelbarrow, the boy was, of course, acting innocent. As he went by with the wheelbarrow, the keeper turned to the boy and remarked politely, “Oh, by the way, you might want to wash your hands when you’re done. They’ve been peeing on this stuff all night.”
As the keeper’s words sank in, a look of disgust spread across the boy’s face and he began wiping his hands on his pants.

Feb 112012

A visitor cornered a passing keeper one day on the walk in front of the reptile house. She informed him that her son, who was standing nearby, was psychic, and that he was getting very bad vibes from the alligators inside the building. She maintained that they were very unhappy and wasn’t there something he could do about it?

Not really knowing what to say, the keeper told the lady that the alligators’ regular home was being renovated and the alligators were temporarily crowded into a holding area. He added that he was sure that the bad vibes were due to this crowding, but that the reptile keepers were working as fast as they could, and would return the alligators to their accustomed exhibit very soon.

Feb 112012

Visitor in giraffe building to keeper: “How old is that baby giraffe?”

“Well, he’ll be a year old in about a month.”

“Oh. And how old is it now?”

Feb 102012

A mother and her young daughter standing in front of a mixed-species exhibit in the nocturnal Australia building:

“Mommy, what’s that animal?” (Pointing at a hairy-nosed wombat.)

“I don’t know.”

“What’s that one?” (Pointing at a brush-tailed possum near the wombat.)

“It’s a baby of that other one.”

“But why does the little one have a tail and the big one doesn’t?”

“Because their tails fall off as they grow up.”

Feb 092012

A father was going down the row of cages, diligently reading each sign to his young son. After a while the boy looked up with a puzzled expression on his face and asked, “But how did they know what they were called?”

Feb 092012

Editor’s Note:
The phrase “the great unwashed” was coined by Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton (1803–1873). I don’t know what he had in mind with that phrase, but it seems to fit most keepers’ (mostly joking) feelings about the general public fairly well. Particularly on free days!

Bulwer-Lytton is probably best known for the infamous opening to his novel Paul Clifford (1830) which begins, “It was a dark and stormy night…. “

He is also credited with first using the phrase “The pen is mightier than the sword.“

Feb 092012

A young boy, running ahead of his family, asked the keeper what animals were in the large, gunite exhibit the keeper was hosing. Picking the simplest of his standard answers, the keeper told him that they were mountain goats.

When the boy’s family caught up with him he turned excitedly to his mother and said, “Look mom, mountain goats.” His mother, reading the sign on the fence, replied, “No, they’re Siberian ibex.” This went back and forth several times, with the boy insisting that they were mountain goats, and the mother insisting on a literal interpretation of the sign. Finally in exasperation, the mother turned to the boy and said, “How do you know they’re mountain goats?” The boy pointed at the keeper and said, ‘‘He told me!” His mother had no reply.