Sunday, August 5, 2012

Primate Aide Keeper Job

Okay, I am not trying to sound cool or awesome or anything, but this is the best job EVER! So yes, I do clean up primate poop but the rest of the stuff I get to do and see outweighs the poop cleaning! First thing I do when I get there is feed them. The gorillas are inside in their cages so I go outside and spread some fruits, vegetables and bamboo shoots. Then I come inside, we open the doors and they all run outside to eat. There are six gorillas, three boys and three girls.  Baracka is 20 years old, male and the dominant male in the family. He is what they call a silverback.  Then there is Kwarme, he is 12, and Kojo, he is 10.  Then there is Mandara, she is 30 years old and has given birth to all the gorillas except for Baracka (she was a surrogate mother to Baracka since his birth). There is another girl and she is 18 years old (I cannot remember her name!) and a 3 year old girl name Kibibi which means "little lady" in Swahili. She is in the picture below, she is about the size of a human three year old and oh so adorable! So while they are outside eating I go inside and clean their cages.  Take the old hay out, hose it down and put some new hay in. They love coming in to their clean cages. They check it out to make sure it's clean enough and roll around in the hay.  Once they are all inside I go back outside and spread some popcorn around (no butter or salt). It's a treat to them. Then they go back outside to eat and play again. Then the zoo keeper and I go outside and answer the publics questions about gorillas. In the afternoons we do some enrichment activities like playing on iPads and computer, playing with sheets (they love wearing them on their heads!) and play with other different toys. These animals are so smart and so lovable.
These animals are so much like humans it is crazy. In the wild male gorillas will live with their troop till they are about fourteen years old, at this point they go on their own and form a bachelor troop with other male gorillas around their age. After a couple years they will go find some females and start their own troops. So we have Baracka who is the dominant male of the family. Kwarme is 12 years old and is starting to distance himself from the troop.  When we call them in for breakfast/lunch/dinner, Kwarme will come in on the little bridge connecting the the inside cages but will stop there and not go farther. After a minute he will go back outside and will meet us at the other door, so we will let him in at the other door. He doesn't want to do what Baracka does, he's too cool for that! Now on the other side of the Ape House we have the orangutans. Kyle has a major crush on Bonnie and will not let Bonnie out of his sight. He will even literally hold on to her hair. It is very hard for the zoo keepers to separate them. At one point they finally got Bonnie away from Kyle.  Keko has really been wanting to hang out with Bonnie and finally got his chance. After Bonnie hung out with Keko, Kyle came back and was mad at Bonnie for hanging out with Keko and Keko was jealous of Kyle hanging out with Bonnie all the time! They are too funny and I love them too much.


  1. interesting, perhaps we act like primates when we are jealous and manipulative....?

  2. coolest job ever!!! i can't believe you get to do that. how often do you see them?? man seriously i can't believe this.