#GoodnightZoo – A Routine Night With Wild Animals

On June 12, 2015, the Zoo’s Twitter team accompanied Night Keeper Mike on his evening rounds and shared our animals’ bedtime routines with followers using hashtag #GoodnightZooIn case you missed it, here’s a recap of that night plus extra photos and content provided by Mike.  (See #GoodnightZoo article on WCPO)

Please note that all images were taken from a distance and from behind barriers. It is not safe to own wild animals as pets or to share space with them.

Mike Kroeger, aka “Night Keeper Mike,” has been at the Cincinnati Zoo since May of 1996. That’s 19 years! He’s worked in the Bird House, Rhino Reserve, and the Children’s Zoo before moving to Night Watch.

We met Night Keeper Mike at 4pm at the Animal Hospital. He starts his rounds there after speaking with the vet on duty. Tonight it happened to be Dr. Jenny Nollman. She lets Mike know of any special instructions for the night and then he’s on his way. Goodnight Dr. Nollman!

Night Keeper Mike & Dr. Jenny Nollman

First stop: Galápagos tortoise! Night Keeper Mike has no issues getting these turtles inside. They gladly followed his trail of veggies. Goodnight Galápagos tortoises!

Galápagos tortoises follow Night Keeper Mike’s trail of veggies inside.

Mike keeps up a fast pace around the Zoo in order to get everything done. We quickly walk over to Night Hunters to check on Prosperity and Gracious, the white lions. White lions are a rare color mutation of the African lion. They are not albino; they are leucistic, which means they lack dark pigmentation. Prosperity, the mother, is always brought inside first, followed by daughter Gracious. They are given their nighttime meals separately (as is the routine with all the cats, so the dominant one doesn’t eat all of the food) and then they’re brought back together for the night.

Prosperity’s dinner!

While feeding these two, Night Keeper Mike got a call on the radio that the  alarm in Night Hunters was going off. Off we went! He says each night is different from the next. This was a good example! Luckily, it was a false alarm and everything was okay.


Tiger Enrichment Notes

The manatees were next on his list. Night Keeper Mike takes us behind the scenes to get a view of the massive sea cows from above. As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Cincinnati Zoo is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they are ready for release back into the wild. Mike checked the environmental systems including pumps and ozone and they were functioning properly and the manatees were good to go. Goodnight manatees!


After checking on the manatees, Mike takes a look at the other animals in Manatee Springs to make sure that all is well. Goodnight snake!


Next was a trip to the Rhino Reserve. Black rhino Seyia and Indian rhino Manjula live there, as well as okapi, bongosGrevy’s zebras and yellow-backed duikers. Night Keeper Mike is especially fond of Seyia and usually gives her one or two grain biscuit treats!

Seyia's ready for snacks & playtime!
Seyia’s ready for snacks & playtime!
Indian rhino Manjula chomps on her dinner.
Indian rhino Manjula chomps on her dinner.
Yellow-backed duiker and her calf.
Yellow-backed duiker Lilly and her calf Stanley.
Zebra's Buster & Lainey are ready for bed.
Zebra’s Buster & Lainey are ready for bed.
Bongo heading inside.
Beau the 3yr old bongo heads inside.
Bedtime for baby bongo calf Stevie!
Bedtime for baby bongo calf Sukari!

Wildlife Canyon, home to the only Sumatran rhino in the Western Hemisphere, Harapan, was next on the list. This stop included a variety of animals. Mike’s job is to bring them inside and make sure they have food for the night. Some animals like Harapan have access to their outdoor exhibit all night (weather dependent).

Sleepy hogs.
Sleepy pot-bellied pigs.
Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski’s Horse
Warty Pigs get a bedtime snack.
Visayan warty pigs get a bedtime snack.
Capybaras decided they didn't want to come in yet.
Capybaras decided they didn’t want to come in yet.
Harapan interacting with his enrichment before bedtime.
Harapan interacting with his enrichment before bedtime.

Time to check on the Andean bear (Chester), black bears (Mato & Yona) and polar bears (Little One & Berit). They also have access to their outdoor exhibits all night long!

Caught snoozing with his arm straight up!
Caught Chester snoozing with his arm straight up!
Polar bear!
Polar bear!
The American black bear waiting patiently for a bedtime snack.

Time to venture to Africa! Mike has to get all of the savannah animals to their indoor exhibits. Tonight Africa Keeper Dan was there to help. Together they corralled the kudu, ostrich, cranes and the rest of the hoofstock inside (the animals made them work for it).  Dr. Nollman noted to Mike that cheetah “Savanna” is experiencing indigestion. Mike makes a meatball and hides medicine to ease her stomach inside.

Night Keeper Mike prepares the cheetah's diet.
Night Keeper Mike prepares the cheetah’s diet.
Savanna the cheetah getting her meds.

Animals in Children’s Zoo were already in bed!

Three little pigs sleeping in their bed.

We head back over to Africa so Night Keeper Mike can talk to the Nocturnal Adventure kids about the lion cubs.

Night Keeper Mike talks to Nocturnal Adventure overnight kids about the lions.
Three tired cubs with their dad, John on the monitor.
Three tired cubs with their dad, John on the monitor.
#CZBGLionCubs woke up! Dad John is still sleepy.

Back to the nursery!

Goodnight nursery dog Blakely!
Goodnight nursery dog Blakely!
Goodnight wallabies!
Goodnight wallabies!

Night Keeper Mike heads back to Night Hunters to bring in the cougars (Joseph & Tecumseh), white tigers (Akere & Popsey), Malayan tigers (Taj & Who Dey), snow leopards (Renji & Nubo) and to check on the other cats.

Night Keeper Mike has the meat for the tigers!
Goodnight Pallas’ cat
Goodnight Josie (caracal)
Goodnight snow leopard Nubo
Goodnight Malayan tiger brothers Taj & Who Dey
Goodnight Malayan Tiger
Goodnight White tiger

We only spent four hours with Night Keeper Mike when we had to check out, but he still had a lot of work to do!

4 hours and 15,000 steps later and we were done for the night!

Another #GoodnightZoo is planned for late fall, so follow along on Twitter!