GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — This week is National Zookeeper Week!
Zookeepers are often the unsung heroes of the animal world who put diligent care into keeping them happy and healthy.
John Ball Zoo has been accredited by the AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) since 1983 and still holds the title to this day. An AZA accreditation is the highest title a zoo can be awarded. This means that the animals have excellent care, it is a great experience for visitors and they aim for a better future for all living things.
To be a zookeeper, you need a bachelor's of science degree in a field of biology like zoology, life science, or animal science. And many zookeepers at John Ball Zoo actually have degrees higher than that.
There are 25 total zookeepers at John Ball Zoo who are all on-call 24/7. They even go into the zoo on holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving to care for the animals. With all of the animals in the zoo to feed; their schedules are completely booked.
Though it is a time consuming job, zookeepers say that it is extremely rewarding. Zookeepers have the chance to build relationships with all kinds of animals in the world. Most even consider the animals to be apart of their family.
One animal at the zoo has had a hard time growing up. The 9-month-old wallaby named Jackie lost her mother while she was still in her pouch phase of development.
When marsupials are born premature, meaning they are still very underdeveloped and need to remain in its mom's pouch until they are ready to pop out a little head and say hello.
The zookeepers of John Ball Zoo have all stepped up to help raise baby Jackie as well as the mom would have. Since she still needs to be in a pouch, zookeepers have been wearing around a portable makeshift pouch so that the wallaby can grow up how she is intended. She is in wonderful hands with an entire team to help raise and nurture baby Jackie.
If you want to celebrate National Zookeeper Week, you can pay a visit to a zoo near you and thank a zookeeper for all of their hard work.
To purchase tickets to the John Ball Zoo, click here.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.