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Category — Keeper Bios

Meet Rhino Keeper, Marj Barthel

Contributors: Megan-Kate Ferguson & Wendy Rice

When it comes to dedication, Marj Barthel exemplifies the word. Marj works as a keeper in the Rhino Reserve (also called the Veldt). She is extremely committed to her team of coworkers at the Veldt, as well as her collection of animals. Her passion for her profession is evident in all that she does, and she truly embodies loyalty to her animals.

Marjorie and black rhino

Marjorie and black rhino

One of the more difficult aspects of the zookeeping profession is managing the many different responsibilities that require our attention on a daily basis. Regardless of the demands, Marj always puts her animals first. Because the animals cannot speak for themselves, it is essential that we keep their best interests in mind with all decision-making, and Marj accomplishes this with zeal. Marj effectively manages her daily routine to ensure that there is enough time to spend on training with her animals. She recognizes the value in training and utilizes it to not only meet the needs of the animals, but also to ensure that our guests have a memorable experience at the Zoo. By making time for extra training, Marj is able to improve the quality of life for her animals by minimizing stress and facilitating basic husbandry.

Arguably one of the most important qualities a zookeeper can have is passion. In a job where the work can be so exhausting and emotionally draining, only the keepers with true passion are able to push through the hardest days and keep on fighting the good fight. Passion and enthusiasm can be contagious, and anyone who has worked alongside of Marj can tell you first-hand how passionate she is about her animals and her work. The emotional ties she has with her animals are apparent and she very obviously loves each of the creatures in her care.

While Marj may be an introvert at heart, she pushes herself past her comfort level to deliver keeper chats and provide behind-the-scenes tours whenever it is asked of her. She is a significant part of her team and she is integral to the daily lives and care of her animals.

At the core of this profession, there must be a love of animals and a respect for wildlife. Marj absolutely represents this core value, and we are so glad to have her on our team.

July 25, 2014   No Comments

Meet Insectarium Keeper Mandy Pritchard

Contributors: April Pitman, Wendy Rice, and Jenna Wingate

Mandy Pritchard works as a keeper at World of the Insect, also called the Insectarium. Mandy has a solid entomology background and she is very knowledgeable of the biology and taxonomy of a variety of different species of insects. As a keeper, Mandy is in charge of maintaining and breeding 15 species. Most of her species require fresh plant cuttings, so you will see her out in the park every day (rain, shine or snow) looking for the best plants for her cultures.

According to her colleagues, Mandy is an awesome coworker. She helps train volunteers and new hires, and whenever her coworkers go to her with questions, she is always open and willing to help. Mandy is very easy to get along with and is one of the reasons the Insectarium is such a team-oriented and cohesive department.

Mandy Pritchard introducing American Burying Beetles

Mandy Pritchard introducing American Burying Beetles

Additionally, Mandy is an awesome representation of the zookeeping profession because of her passion for conservation. She goes above and beyond her job as a keeper. Currently, she is in charge of the American Burying Beetle reintroduction program at the Zoo. She successfully collaborates with other agencies outside the Zoo (Ohio Fish and Wildlife, Fernald Preserve, and more) to work towards a lasting conservation solution. The program itself is requires much diligence and hard work. Mandy is in charge of organizing dates for the release, helping to staff the release, raising the beetles, setting traps to survey the area before and after the release, and much more.

One of the most important things keepers do is educate the public on conservation and Mandy does a great job of that. Sharing her passion with the public comes naturally to Mandy. She just recently gave a talk at the Fernald Preserve (where the beetles are released) to help educate the public on the importance of this species. It is not the easiest thing to show people why this beetle should be saved. Most people just see it as another bug! But Mandy does a great job of enlightening everyone, keeping the audience interested and even getting a few laughs, too! Mandy has the ability to make people care about something they never thought they would. Keep it up, Mandy!


July 24, 2014   2 Comments

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