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Category — Keeper Bios

Tanks A Lot Zookeeper Chris Edelen

Chris Edelen in Manatee Springs

Cincinnati native Chris Edelen has been working at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden for 20 years. Chris was inspired by Jacques Cousteau and educational animal shows from his childhood to work with animals and to educate the public about them. Chris began his career here working in the Children’s Zoo and then moved to the Bird House where he worked for 12 years.

As a zookeeper at Manatee Springs, Chris is responsible for the daily care and upkeep of the manatees and their tank. He is involved with training the manatees and other animals in the Manatee Springs exhibit (excluding reptiles). He also works with our volunteer divers, preparing them for dives and maintaining their safety while they are in the tank. During Manatee Encounters, he shares factual information about the animals in Manatee Springs with visitors and tries to inspire people to take action to protect them.

Chris helps get a new manatee into the tank.

In 2011 and 2012, Chris traveled to the Antarctic Peninsula to conduct penguin censuses. Those trips have been the highlight of his Zoo career thus far.

Outside of the Zoo world, Chris enjoys karate, biking and spending time with family. His pets include birds, bats, cats, and snakes. If he could work with any animal, he would choose auklets.

July 21, 2012   2 Comments

Always A Smile On Her Face

Jenna and Mai Thai

Jenna came to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in 2009 following her graduation from Indiana University, where she majored in biology and minored in animal behavior.  Jenna began her Zoo career as an intern at the Commissary, which is where all of the animal food comes in and is then distributed to the different areas within the Zoo.  She also took part in various animal encounters throughout the park. After completing her first internship, Jenna went on to intern in the Zoo’s Education Department  and began guiding Nocturnal Adventures overnight programs.

Jenna feeding Kimba in Giraffe Ridge

Jenna works with the Maasai giraffes, greater flamingos, East African crowned cranes and Asian elephants. Her typical activities include cleaning out yards, stalls and pools, and working on enrichment training with the giraffes and cranes. Visitors can often find Jenna presenting the Giraffe Encounters or assisting trainers during the Elephant Encounters.

“I love giving the elephants enrichment and helping with Mai Thai’s elephant paintings,” says Jenna. Having the opportunity to connect with the public and teaching them about the animals she cares for is another favorite part of her job.

While Jenna has a busy schedule at the Zoo, she still makes time for her two dogs, chameleon and leopard gecko at home. Jenna is engaged to fellow Zoo employee Scott Wingate, who works in the Education Department.

July 20, 2012   1 Comment

Markee Jefferies is Living Her Dream

Markee in the bird show

Markee began her career at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden as a seasonal employee during the summer of 2007. In 2012, she became a full-time zookeeper for the Zoo’s Great American Wings of Wonder Bird Show.

Before each bird show, Markee must clean the birds’ cages, prepare food and feed her feathery friends, and go through the proper training and enrichment to prepare the birds for the show. During the show, Markee can be seen handling parrots, hornbills, raptors and penguins.

Markee and Gary in the Wings of the World bird show

Markee says that her favorite part about being a zookeeper is, “seeing how intelligent the birds are. They all have different personalities.” She also enjoys educating the public about the various types of birds in the show. One of Markee’s fondest zookeeper memories is of the time she got to let the bald eagle, Sam, fly in Great American Ball Park during the national anthem.

When Markee is not working with the birds, she enjoys playing in coed volleyball and softball leagues and taking care of her two pet cats.

July 19, 2012   No Comments