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Category — Keeper’s Komments

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

Assisted Flamingo Chick Hatch

Wild Encounter program flamingos walking through the Zoo.

Wild Encounter program flamingos walking through the Zoo.

Everything in a flamingo’s world needs to be a social occasion!  Their lives are built around doing whatever everyone else is doing when everyone else is doing it.  This includes all aspects of their breeding cycle – from courtship displays all the way to building their mud nests to rearing their chicks.

After successfully hatching and fledging four chicks on exhibit this season, the Cincinnati Zoo’s greater flamingo flock started to become a little antsy.  Even those birds that were still incubating eggs were starting to spend more time off their nests…wanting to do what the majority was doing… and that was walking around.

Thus, we decided to pull the last three eggs under the parents to place in an incubator.  We then “candled” the eggs (placing them in front of a bright light) and found one was infertile, one was a late-term death, and the third contained a growing, active, vibrant embryo!  This egg was monitored for several days and seemed to be well on its way to hatching just fine.  On the morning of June 30, we found chick had “pipped” (broken through) his outer shell and was calling regularly.  (Parent birds and their chicks often “talk” to each other pre-hatch.)

After an incubation period of about 30 days, a flamingo egg usually takes 24-36 hours to hatch (from initial pip to total freedom from shell), so we were not too worried that not much progress had been made on the morning of July 1.  However, as the day went along with little change, we began to consider that we were not exactly sure what time it pipped (was it late 6-29 or early 6-30?) and that an assisted hatch might be in order.

I first pulled a little of the outer shell away from around the pip mark and determined chick was very dry and likely stuck.  What follows is a series of photos taken during the assisted hatch on the evening of July 1, 2014.

Below is a photo of the chick on Day 12!  It is currently being hand-reared with a slightly older flamingo.  These two are destined to join the group of four that takes part in the Wild Encounters programs marching around the zoo and greeting our guests on exhibit in Africa.    The more, the merrier with flamingos!

Flamingo chick - 12 days old.

Flamingo chick – 12 days old.


July 15, 2014   1 Comment