Contributor: Ron Evans
Continuing our celebration of National Zoo Keeper Week, we’d like you to meet Eric High, Head Keeper in the Zoo’s Primate Department. Eric has worked at the Zoo for almost 15 years, and he has an incredible work ethic. He sets a “high” bar (pun intended) for his keepers, and leads by strong example.
Eric is acutely focused on the myriad of Zoo and departmental missions and goals that have been presented to him, and is instrumental in their development, execution and long term management. Eric was key in facilitating some of the first examples of many programs we practice zoo-wide and are common today. For example, Eric helped usher one of our very first animal department comprehensive operant conditioning programs with gorillas in the early 2000s. It still stands as one of the best in the Zoo.
Additionally, he helped develop and manage one of the very first advertised keeper chats (outside of the Cat, Bird and Elephant shows) at the Zoo, complete with microphones, which at the time scared half the keepers to death to use. He knew it was important to the Zoo’s mission and that it would help set the bar for other departments.
Finally, Eric managed the complicated scheduling of staff working 24/7 during the very challenging Gladys surrogacy project and kept the rest of the Primate Center needs on track while many resources had to be diverted for Gladys.
Eric is one of the rock solid foundation keepers that allow us to maintain current programs while supporting efforts to enhance and grow new ones. If we could clone a bunch of him, we could run this Zoo with about half the staff. The productivity would go way, way up!