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Category — Keeper Bios

Meet Tom Tenhunfeld

Contributors: Linda Castaneda, & Wendy Rice

Tom Tenhundfeld works as a keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo’s off-site breeding facility, Mast Farm. Tom lives and works at the Mast Farm where he is responsible for the daily maintenance and upkeep of the huge 107-acre property as well as the care and husbandry of breeding populations of cranes and cheetahs, among other species.

Tom Tenhundfeld and Cathryn Hilker

Tom Tenhundfeld and Cathryn Hilker

Speaking of cheetahs, Tom is the leader of one of the most consistently successful cheetah breeding programs in the country. Since 2002, 41 cheetah cubs have been produced at the facility under Tom’s guidance. He is patient, but tenacious with his collection, and his attention to detail and knowledge of cheetah language is a skill that is unique and that no doubt contributes to his success.

Tom used to be an on-grounds hoofed stock and carnivore keeper. His animal sense and years of experience make him invaluable in his current role. He always puts his animals first and isn’t afraid to speak on behalf of their well-being. We are proud to have Tom on our team!

July 23, 2014   1 Comment

Meet Primate Keeper Eric High

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.

Zoo Keeper Eric High with baby gorilla Gladys.

Zoo Keeper Eric High with baby gorilla Gladys.

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!

July 22, 2014   No Comments

It’s National Zoo Keeper Week! Meet Keeper Kim Klosterman.

Contributors: Jackie Bray, Jenna Wingate, & Wendy Rice

Happy National Zoo Keeper Week! During the week beginning on the third Sunday in July each year, zoos nationwide honor animal care professionals and the work they do in animal care, conservation, and education. There are approximately 6,000 animal care professionals in the United States. Throughout this week, we’d like to introduce you to several of our outstanding keepers here at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Kim and Kea

Zoo Keeper Kim Klosterman with a Kea

Meet Aviculture Keeper, Kim Klosterman
Kim works as a keeper in our aviculture department. Her dedication and work ethic are inspiring, and her devotion to the animals in her care is evident in all that she does. Kim goes out of her way to make sure her animals receive the highest standard of care, even if it means late nights or extra work. She often builds nest boxes and special enrichment items for the animals on her own time. And she is always positive, passionate and polite.

Though Kim’s knowledge and understanding of aviculture is already extensive, she spends many hours researching best practices in husbandry, disease management and reproduction. By implementing the most up-to-date practices, Kim has been integral in several important breakthroughs in the reproduction and health care management of rare species.

Female kea

Female kea

In addition to her role as keeper, Kim is a passionate and productive warrior for the in-situ conservation of several avian species, most notably the kea (a parrot from New Zealand). Through grant writing, keeper chats, kea encounters and collaborations with other organizations and zoo departments, she has helped raise thousands of dollars that have made significant positive impacts on wild kea populations. Kim’s leadership has dramatically increased U.S. support for kea conservation and has helped form international collaborations that will likely change the direction of future captive management policies of the species. She is also largely responsible for our incredible new interactive kea exhibit that is receiving national and international attention. This exhibit sets a new standard for up-close, personal interactions with the animals and increases awareness and financial support for conservation initiatives.


July 21, 2014   1 Comment