St. Louis Zoo celebrates Zookeeper Week


ST. LOUIS – From the new baby elephant to sea lions and snakes, zookeepers at the St. Louis Zoo are being celebrated for the thousands of animals in their care this National Zookeepers week.

At the Tuesday afternoon Sea Lion show, a chance to see the care and enrichment that takes place on a regular basis inside the Saint Louis Zoo.

“Third week of July is National zookeeper week,” said Luis Padilla, DVM, Vice President Animal Collections Saint Louis Zoo.  “It’s a week where we acknowledge all the work of animal care scientists that do the day to day care of our animals, conservation and education, and all the things that go into making the zoo such a wonderful place for the animals.”

It was just weeks ago when the zoo announced a new baby male Asian elephant calf at 1:55 p.m. on Monday, July 6, 2020.

Raja is the father, and Rani the zoo’s 23-year-old Asian elephant female who gave birth to a yet-to-be-named baby boy.

All elephant keepers are giving their attention to the new calf.

“He does require a lot of care,” said Padilla.  “He was born with some developmental conditions that the keepers are just around the clock providing around the clock so that he has excellent care and does well.”

But the elephants are just one of 13,000 different animals of every shape and size in Forest Park.

As part of National Zookeeper week July 19-25. Keepers are doing zoom interviews and in-person discussions about animals, their care, and the bond formed between keeper and animal.

Celebrating keepers and animals like this 3-year-old Eurasian Eagle Owl.

“When a child who’s never seen an owl before and can get this close to seeing one in person for the first time,” said Elena Appelt, Children’s Zookeeper, holding the nearly two-foot-tall owl.  “It really makes an impression that lasts with them when they leave the zoo as well.  So, they think about them more because they’ve seen one in real life.  And they get to know more about the species as well.”

“Whether it’s an elephant or sea lion or bird, whatever the care the animals need, our staff provides it,” said Padilla.  “Sometimes that’s a 24-7 job.  Just because it’s a holiday or weekend, the animals don’t stop needing medical care or needing to be fed or be cared for.”

The Saint Louis Zoo is open with social distancing and masks are required.

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