There are some weird ones, y’all. After reading through this list, I’m not surprised by animals anymore. Ever. Nope.
#15. Howler monkeys are weird AF.
“Male teenage red howler monkeys that grab their asshole while pooping, and taking all the shit out with their hands.
Seriously, howler monkeys are weird AF.”
#14. Chimps love treats.
“I would bring the chimps treats each week. I once brought a bag full of lychee, which they thought was only “meh” but the keepers loved them. Surprised me, since I thought they would go nuts for them so I picked a whole tree’s worth.
One day I bring a dozen kiwi, and it was clear they had never seen them before. Watching them peel the kiwi so delicately with their lips was amazing.
Also, given watermelon, they will eat it all the way through to the skin. I’m talking all the rind down to one millimeter of tough green skin.
They’ll chomp a banana tree stalk like candy… anyway, chimps love treats.’
#13. Like nothing was happening.
“I’m a zookeeper!
We had a lone, male Marabou stork that found a water bottle, picked it up and put it in his nest, then proceeded to incubate it for a while. He got mad when we eventually had to take it away from him.
I’ve seen adult giraffe attempt to nurse from lactating females and seem peeved when she wouldn’t let them.
I’ve seen a Nyala get a whole square of sod skewered upside down on his horns that eventually slid down and completely covered one of his eyes. He acted like nothing was happening.”
#12. Check mate, kid.
“Not a zookeeper, but a few years ago we were vising the Berlin zoo and some kids that were in our group were really fascinated by the chimpanzees.
After a few minutes of making faces and trying to get the chimps attention – one of the kids shows the monkey his middle finger.
The chimp responded with lifting both its arms and showing the kid TWO middle fingers.
Check mate, kid.”
#11. What the people are doing.
“Generally, the weirdest stuff you’ll see at a zoo is what the people are doing.”
#10. Planet of the apes.
“Ex zookeeper here, I remember once there was a period of a few days where one of the chimps had this stick and was spending hours at a time just rubbing it on the ground. Some of the keepers tried to give it other toys to play with etc but it wasn’t interested. Anyway, long story short, it was sharpening the stick and then tried to stab a keeper through the bars of their indoor part of their enclosure.”
#9. She ate a skunk.
“Volunteer (former), not keeper. I liked to show up early before my shift to watch the big cats get let out into their space. One morning, one of the lionesses was already out and she was sitting there, like the famous NY library lions, only with a Calvin face. Her tongue was hanging out and her eyes were squinched up. I asked the lead cat keeper what the deal was. “Oh, she ate a skunk yesterday, so we decided it’d be a good idea to let her stay outside overnight instead of stinking up the night house.”
They opened the doors to the lions’ night house and her brother and sister came bounding up to her in what appeared to be great concern (“Where WERE you last night?!?!?). Her sister took one whiff and bounded to another place in the exhibit. Her brother started to sit close to her, thought better of it, walked about six feet away and then settled down and watched her.”
#8. Absolutely distraught.
“I was a zookeeper and worked in animal care in various capacities for a long time. One of the weirdest things I’ve seen is when a reptile “drops” their tail. It’s only happened to me once with a Lemon gecko I was transferring from one terrarium to another. I had a poor grip on him and as he was wiggling loose I desperately grabbed on to his tail which he promptly dropped and I was left holding a dismembered, writhing tail while the gecko escaped.
Also, two of the lions at one of my jobs were afraid of a raccoon. I could hear them (the lions) making the most pitiful, pathetic bellowing sounds. I went to check on them and lo and behold a raccoon was up one of the trees in their enclosure. These two large alpha predators were absolutely distraught over a little raccoon. For it’s part, the raccoon was completely unbothered and just observed them for a bit before going on it’s way.”
#7. Every damn day.
“I work at an aquarium, not a zookeeper though. We have one male sea otter who likes to play with his dick right in front of the glass in the most prominent spot. His dick is bright red and he just strokes it and nibbles at it in front of everybody. Every damn day. I’m the one who stands by the exhibit, so I’m the one who has to field all the awkward questions.”
#6. A little too frisky.
“Super late, but actual Zookeeper. I was once charged by a very large male Sulcata Tortoise who apparently thought I got a little too close to his female. Fortunately I was able to step over the foot high fence in time so that I was viciously mauled. Our tortoises are characters. I’ve also had to flip the male over by myself, who mind you, is on the upper end of his life span and about as big as they get, because he got a little too frisky with the female and fell off.
edit: I did not in fact step over the fence to be mauled, but to avoid being mauled. spell checking is for squares.”
#5. Off the steep hill behind her enclosure.
“I worked at a private zoo for a while and the weirdest was probably the female baboon rescue we had. She was very well tempered but she would beckon new workers over to her cage with a gesture and if you had anything in your hand, she’d reach out and rip it from you then throw it off the steep hill behind her enclosure.”
#4. The pickiest eater.
“Been a zookeeper for almost 2 years now. We have a giraffe that has a couple meds he has to take daily, but the little shit will NOT take the same food from you two days in a row. He knows exactly what we’re up to and also happens to be the pickiest eater ever so sometimes it takes an hour to get five pills, the size of A TYPICAL ADVIL PILL, into this 2,000 lb animal.
Also was watching lions in their inside enclosure once, mom and dad we’re laying down and daughter was just walking around trying to find a spot. The daughter is notorious for bugging any other lion with her to play by sitting on them. She walks over to mom and starts to sit, or so I thought, and just starts PISSING ON HER. I’ve never seen a lion double take but that second I swear to god I saw mom look at what was falling on her and then just DISGUST on her face and she jumped up and swatted at daughter. It was pretty freaking hilarious.”
#3. Licking the beaver.
“I’m a zookeeper! I work in a small department with lots of random animals that we take on programs to show guests. In our department, the cages are made of mesh, so the animals can sometimes be housed next to each other where they can reach each other and interact. One time, the beaver was housed next to the tamanduas (lesser ant eaters), and we went over and saw the tamanduas licking the beaver ALL OVER! By the time the beaver went back to his own enclosure he was soaking wet with tamandua spit.”
#2. Flossing baboons.
“Not a zookeeper but primatologist. During my masters I did a study on spontaneous tool use in captive baboons. The weird bit? They were flossing. Literally flossing with hair and broom bristles like we do with toothpicks and…well dental floss. You can Google ‘Flossing Baboons’ and you’ll pretty quickly get a photo of Georgia.”
#1. Then repeat.
“I once saw on gorilla poke another in the butt then sniff his finger.
One gorilla was laying in a hammock and the other was sitting on the ground beneath him. He would reach up, poke the gorillas butt, look at his finger, sniff it then repeat.”
If it’s your dream to become a zookeeper, you’re a better person than I.