Keepers at the Maryland Zoo are fun and friendly people (who willingly get into model oriole nests), but they are also incredibly professional and passionate about their careers. For this National Zookeeper Week spotlight, meet Taylor, he cares for some of the animals that many people are most afraid of.

What kind of animals do you work with or what area?

I work with native Maryland species and reptiles/amphibians in the Maryland Wilderness area, as well as the Panamanian Golden Frogs and African slender-snouted crocodiles in the Chimpanzee Forest.

How long have you been working at the zoo?

1.5 years

What steps did you take in order to become an animal keeper?

I studied Wildlife Conservation at the University of Delaware and worked various jobs/internships related to animals and the environment including wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife research, and environmental education.

What is something you do everyday for the animal that would surprise us?

I care for our Seba’s short-tailed bat group, which requires daily feeding and cleaning. Each morning I climb into the bat cave and spend about 45 minutes with over 100 bats whizzing around my head.

What do you want the public to know about zookeeping?

It’s more than just picking up poop. Those of us in this field are very passionate about what we do and worked very hard to get where we are.

Why did you want to become a keeper?

From a young age I had a fascination with animals and loved visiting the zoo. As I grew up I realized that science was my favorite subject and it made sense to pursue a career in animal care.

What hobbies/interests do you have outside of your zoo life?

I love nature and outdoor activities like hiking, herping, camping and kayaking. I also like eating ice cream.

What is your favorite part of a typical day at the zoo?

Lunch! Only joking! I love the oppurtonities I get to be hands-on with my animals and I love to feed snakes!

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Time management, we have a lot of things that need to be done daily, plus lots of species projects. The toughest part is fitting it all into one day.

Where would you travel to see animals, or what places have you traveled to?

I have traveled to Costa Rica seeing many different animals and I highly recommend it! I would love to visit more of South America, Cambodia, New Zealand and MADAGASCAR!

What do you think is the most important reason to support the zoo?

Supporting the Zoo supports animals. We are directly involved with conservation efforts all throughout the world. Support the Zoo so we can help ensure future generations get to experience all the incredible life on earth.