Category — Keeper’s Komments
Zookeeper Rickey Kinley has always enjoyed being around animals. That passion led him to attend the Zoo Academy, a high school based here at the Zoo, and to accept a position at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden as a seasonal bird zookeeper in 1993. Nineteen years later, he’s still enjoying his work as a bird zookeeper in the Wings of the World exhibit.
For Rickey, no two days are the same. While he follows a basic schedule of preparing food, feeding the birds, cleaning exhibits and caring for the birds, he says that “it is never mundane.” Rickey loves the daily surprises.
Some birds, such as flamingos and cranes, need to exercise daily when they are young to keep their legs from bowing out. Rickey often takes them on walks and runs through the Zoo. The babies follow right behind him as he navigates through the Zoo. You can also find him keeping the king penguins in line when they stray during the penguin parades held here in the winter months.
There are several babies in the bird house right now. Rickey is caring for baby flamingos, baby lorikeets, baby ducks and a baby black footed penguin in addition to the other adult Wings of the World residents!
Rickey has a 17-year-old son named Andre and also helps run a doggy day care and grooming business.
July 17, 2012 No Comments
At the age of 14, Cecil began working at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden under his father Cecil Jackson Sr., who worked at the Zoo for 50 years. In his 35 years as a Zoo employee, Cecil Jr. has worked with gorillas, chimps, orangutans, cats, okapis, tapirs, hippos, horses and various types of birds. He is currently the Elephant Manager and is also responsible for the animals in Giraffe Ridge.
Cecil’s typical work day includes checking on the animals, picking up after them, cleaning, providing enrichment for the animals, and giving tours as needed. “Working here is great,” says Cecil. “Working with the animals is the best time I’ve ever had. Animals are honest; they let you know up front how everything is.”
One of his fondest memories is when the Zoo brought Sabu, the bull elephant, home. Working with Sabu as a calf and developing him into his teens was an enriching experience. After Sabu took a 10-year leave for breeding, he came back to Cincinnati in 2008. “When he came home, his demeanor and spirits had changed from the way he acted at the other facility. It was like ‘I’m home and I am glad’,” says Cecil.
At home, Cecil takes care of his own personal “zoo.” Cecil has 10 dogs, six horses, six cats, four exotic birds, three snakes, two donkeys, a few domestic turtles, and an African spur thigh tortoise that weighs 50 pounds! A fun fact about the African spur thigh tortoise is that it’s the third largest turtle in the world and can weigh up to 300 pounds.
Cecil is also a professional performer. He enjoys playing bluegrass music and has done so all his life.
July 16, 2012 2 Comments
Like most zookeepers, Eunice has always enjoyed being around animals. She began working with animals at the Dolphin Conservation Center in Marineland, FL, in 2006, and it was there that she decided to make training and caring for animals her career. After working at the Downtown Aquarium in Houston training tigers, birds and other small animals, Eunice accepted a position here in 2010. She has worked in the Zoo’s Education Department, Cat Ambassador Program, and is now a zookeeper in the Children’s Zoo.
Eunice works with goats, chickens, pigs, pigeons, donkeys, cows, sheep, reptiles, a llama, an alpaca, a dog and other small animals. The flexibility to be creative with training the variety of animals in her care is what Eunice values most about her job. Last week, for example, she started teaching one of the miniature pigs how to bowl!
On a typical day in the Children’s Zoo, Eunice feeds the animals, cleans their enclosures, and provides them with enrichment objects and activities. Taking hoof-stock on daily walks through the Zoo is another fun part of her job. You never know what animal might be following Eunice on a leash! If you see her out and about, feel free to ask questions about the animals in her care.
Every day at the Zoo is unique. Eunice recalls a special day when she was training a chicken to jump through a hula hoop. The light bulb went off and the chicken figured out what Eunice was asking her to do and the chicken leaped through the hoop. “That was a fun moment,” Eunice describes.
In her spare time, Eunice enjoys running in races. She has completed several half marathons and one full marathon. Eunice has a pet cat named Lola that has not been trained to do a thing.
July 15, 2012 1 Comment