National Zoo Keeper Week

It’s National Zoo Keeper Appreciation Week and we’re celebrating the amazing work our zookeepers do for wildlife every day. They are the dedicated keepers, teachers, and caretakers of the animals here at the zoo. They are also some of the most Passionate hardworking people you’ll meet. The Maryland Zoo is fortunate to have expert teams of animal professionals focused on the care of more than 200 species big and small. We’re so grateful for their knowledge, expertise, and commitment which continues to advance animal husbandry and wildlife conservation here and around the globe.

This year, National Zoo Keeper Week is July 16-22. Each day we’ll share new keeper profiles and introduce you to the people making a difference for animals at the Maryland Zoo.

Meet Katharine M.

What area of the zoo do you work in and with what animals do you work?

Maryland Wilderness and Panamanian Golden Frogs. Otters, bobcats, snakes, turtles, amphibians and birds.

How long have you been working at the zoo?

Just about 10 years

Why did you choose to work at the zoo?

I feel it was more like the zoo chose me. When you are looking to get into this field, you throw your resume out there and see what you can get and this is what I got! I was also really interested in the Panamanian Golden Frog program

What is a typical work day like at the zoo?

The first thing we do is check on our animals and make sure they look healthy. Secondly, we prep the exhibits for the public opening. Much of the day is filled with feeding and cleaning tasks then we move on to projects.

Is it hard to work at the zoo and why?

I think the hard thing people don’t realize about working at the zoo (aside from the hard labor and working in the elements) is that you have to work weekends, holidays and any other atypical days that many of your friends and family enjoy having off and getting together. You will be the odd man out in that instance.

When did you first start thinking about working in a zoo?

Since I was old enough to think about my future career honestly! But in all seriousness, I started checking for job openings on AZA a few months before I graduated college.

What steps did you take in order to become a keeper at the zoo?

I majored in Zoology in college, I volunteered at a museum in their living collections department. I worked at an animal hospital to get paid experience.

What type of person or what skills make for a good keeper?

Patience, flexibility, and willingness to get dirty!

What was your favorite subject in school and why?

Biology because I feel like I finally found “my” science.

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

I love music (shout out to WTMD), movies, comics, hiking, and cooking.

Have you done any unique conservation, research, or professional development experiences related to your work at the zoo?

Yes, I have volunteered with a research group in Ecuador. Grad schools have taken me to the Galapagos, and I have attended 2 AZA Amphibian courses.

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

There are so many! But one reason that people may not realize, is many of the animals at the zoo wouldn’t have a home or even a future without the Maryland Zoo and Zoos like us. Go read the story of the grizzly bears, or the Panamanian Golden Frog. Every time you come to the zoo or attend any zoo event, you are supporting these animals.