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23rd May 2018

Lovin Dubliners: I Spent The Day With A Dublin Zoo Keeper

Éadaoin Fitzmaurice

Like many others, one of the earliest memories from my childhood is going on a family trip to Dublin Zoo. 

My parents would have packed a few grim ham and cheese sambos with the crusts cut off, a tiny juice carton and a Freddo bar that we munched down by the African Savanna. I remember being so amazed by seeing the animals I had read about in my picture books, or maybe had a teddy of in my room – It was amazing.

Times have certainly changed since then but as I walked through the gates and saw children running about, pointing at the animals and giggling their heads off, I realised that the excitement and wonder is still there twenty or so years on.

For this weeks episode of Lovin Dubliners, I caught up with Anita, a Dublin Zoo Keeper. She took me around the zoo during a lunch-time feed and shared her experiences with me.

How did you get into your line of work?

“Well it’s quite interesting because I worked in the bank for ten years but I always enjoyed animals and the outdoors, so I decided to do a field ecology diploma in UCC and a job came up about a year later for assistant keeper and here I am.”

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What does your job involve? 

“Our job is to meet their physical and psychological needs as much as possible and to keep them stimulated.  So really what we’re trying to is to recreate their habitats in the wild and their feeding strategies.”

What’s your favourite animal in Dublin Zoo?

Anita was torn between the Asian Elephants and the Western Lowland Gorilla.

“I suppose I love them because they’re so intelligent. I love the herd environment that they have and they’re very social animals.”

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

“I guess it’s looking after a animal if they’re very sick, and they pass away and you’ve built a rapports with them so it’s really hard to see that.”

What advice do have for someone who wants to be a zoo keeper?

“Contact the education department or get involved with volunteer work, that’s always a help.”

If you get to a certain grading as an assistant keeper Dublin Zoo will send you on a funded animal management course in the UK. 

Header image: @DublinZoo

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