One keeper claimed that one of her favorite tricks when the tour bus passed near the camel yard was to reach down to the ground with a couple of Milk Duds hidden in her hand, pretend to pick up some camel pellets, and then pop the brown candy into her mouth in front of the astonished visitors.
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.
One summer day keepers did a double take when they noticed a middle-aged woman pushing a stroller up the walk to the entrance to the children’s zoo. Sitting in the stroller, wrapped snugly in a brightly colored baby blanket, was a very contented, rather smug-looking, black miniature poodle. The dog seemed to be enjoying itself, relaxing in the stroller and watching all the people going by.
The woman was rather upset when she was told that she would have to take the dog out of the zoo. She didn’t see any problem as long as he behaved himself.
The best part of the situation is that the two of them had made it the length of the zoo before being discovered. Either nobody had looked at the stroller very closely, or else they had just thought that it was a particularly ugly child.
The keepers later wished that they had waited until the woman had actually entered the children’s zoo. They were dying to know if she would have purchased a ticket for the dog.
When the zoo tour bus drove past the Pere David’s deer yard, one keeper used to pause from his raking, lean congenially on his shovel, wave and smile broadly at the people on the train, and call out, “Hi there! I’m Father David. And these are my deer.”
In addition to the normal cleaning equipment, cleaning up in one yard containing a pair of Cereopsis geese required one extra item: a rubber garbage can. The geese were so aggressive the only way keepers could get any work done in the yard was to cover the geese with an upside down garbage can.
A keeper was preparing a bucket of fish to feed the California sea lions. Part of this preparation involved inserting vitamin tablets into a few of the fish. This ensured that each individual would receive the proper dietary supplement.
As a few visitors watched, the keeper placed the first two tabs into the mouths of the fishes. The next one he placed into the fish’s rectum. The visitors were properly shocked.
Because all of the regular cages were filled, a young orangutan in the animal hospital was being housed temporarily in a free-standing cage in the hallway, He seemed to enjoy that location from which he could keep an eye on all of the activity going on around him. His cage was across the hall from the entrance to the cage area, so everyone coming and going had to pass right by his cage.
Whenever keepers entered the cage area they would stop to put on one of the sets of yellow overalls that were hanging next to the door. The orang seemed to find this particularly interesting.
One day keepers attempting to enter the cage area found the door blocked from the inside. They forced the door open far enough to squeeze through and found the orang cage wedged into the corner behind the door.
By rocking back and forth the ape had managed to move the cage completely across the hall. Keepers were puzzled, however, as to why he would want to do such a thing. Puzzled, that is, until they looked inside the cage. There sat the orang, perfectly contented, wearing a pair of yellow overalls.
Several young boys were reaching precariously over the railing in front of the lion cages and teasing the cats. By balancing on the railing and stretching their arms the boys could just get their hands close enough to the cage front to be dangerous. A keeper, seeing what was going, on decided to teach them a lesson.
This particular keeper was big and burly, and had a gruff, deep voice to match. He managed to sneak up behind the boys without their noticing, and the next time they reached out to the lions, he bent over them and let loose with a deafening roar.
The kids were so startled that they lost their grips on the railing and crashed to the ground.
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.
One hot summer day a gorilla keeper came across two macho bodybuilders, stripped to the waist, flexing and displaying to the male gorilla.
The gorilla, apparently was not impressed. The two men, on the other hand, were rather embarrassed to have been spotted.