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Category — Warthog

Happy National Zoo Keepers Week! Meet Primate Keeper, Shelly Donohue

Co-writted by: Danielle Swopes, Susie Semler & Wendy Rice (All keepers at the Zoo)

Our fifth and final honoree for National Zoo Keeper Week is Shelly Donohue! Shelly recently moved from the Africa Interpretive Department to the Primate Department.

When you really look at the Zoo’s core values (progressive thinking, accountability, pride, passion, positivity, etc.), meeting those standards consistently, day-in and day-out, seems like an overwhelming task for some of us. For others, like Shelly, it’s just a walk in the park. 

Shelly shows off her positive attitude!

Shelly shows off her positive attitude!

Anyone who knows Shelly personally has borne witness to her strong set of personal values.  She treats everyone fairly and with kindness and she always chooses to do the right thing, even if it’s not in her best interest. The moral fiber Shelly possesses is both admirable and inspiring, and she consistently represents herself and our institution in a shining light.

As if that weren’t enough, Shelly has also found a unique balance of integrity and congeniality. Her cheery attitude and child-like humor brighten the work place, and spending time with her (even when completing undesirable tasks) is always enjoyable. She will spend hours (while cleaning of course) calling back and forth to “Harley”, the blue and gold macaw, using high-pitched squeals, squawks, whistles, and words. Her connection with the natural world is clearly evident to anyone who has seen her interact with her critters.

Shelly walks Walter the warthog

Shelly walks Walter the warthog

Shelly is also very much a “doer”.  She volunteers to do the everyday tasks that most people avoid like cleaning gutters, weed-whacking, leaf-blowing, stripping and deep cleaning animal enclosures. She never shies away from a challenging or unpleasant task, and she consistently works hard to provide a better life for the animals in her care.

Always striving to achieve more, Shelly really puts all of herself into meeting her goals. From researching future education paths to talking to field researchers and scientists to participating in Miami University’s graduate program, Shelly is always on a path of self-improvement and focused on becoming a better version of herself. With her hard-working and winning attitude, it seems the sky is the limit for this young keeper!

In a world where personal integrity seems to have a ripple effect on others, we are so proud to work alongside Shelly and call her “zoo keeper”.

Shelly and fellow keeper, Susie, with Walter the warthog

Shelly and fellow keeper, Susie, with Walter the warthog

July 24, 2015   No Comments

Walter the Warthog

Two weeks ago I traveled to Dallas, TX, to pick up the Zoo’s newest addition to Africa! Walter is a spirited, 11-week-old warthog.


Walter is sweet and a little ornery… which is pretty adorable.  He’ll be in the Zoo’s nursery for the next three weeks getting to know all of his keepers and handlers. Two to five people are scheduled to socialize, play with and even cuddle Walter every day.  He loves to sleep in your lap, get belly rubs, and play ball.


Once Walter is out of the nursery he will be moved to the Africa interpretive animal area. There he will have a large stall, outdoor exercise yard and lots of daily interaction. Beyond that he will be walked throughout the zoo a minimum of three times a day, for a few different reasons.  Primarily because it is imperative for swine species’ to be exercised a ton!


In the wild most swine will travel more than five miles a day in search of food and/or water. Without appropriate exercise, these highly intelligent animals will become destructive and unhappy. Not only that, swine travel in family groups called “sounders.”  They are highly social. Because of this it is also imperative that Walter’s emotional needs are met. He will want to be out in the Zoo meeting new “family members” every day.


When you come to the Cincinnati Zoo next month, you might get to meet one of our new favorite animals, Walter the warthog.

August 23, 2013   1 Comment