World Elephant Day

August 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

August 12 has been set aside as World Elephant Day, to bring the world together to help these beautiful giant creatures that are seriously endangered.

I was lucky enough to have a great experiences last year with two female Asian elephants, Sujatha and Little Mac, at the Santa Barbara Zoo. You can read about my amazing day as a zookeeper – the day was so awesome I had to post it into Part 1 and Part 2 to share my full experience.

Getting up close and personal with these creatures was a highlight, and it boggles my mind that there are less than 40,000 of these animals in the wild.

After washing these ladies (which was quite an experience in and of itself), I was able to create this portrait (of course after they found some dirt to play in):

One of two female Asian elephants at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Santa Barbara, CA August 2013

One of two female Asian elephants at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Santa Barbara, CA August 2013


Zookeeper for a Day at the Santa Barbara Zoo Part 2

August 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here is part 2 of my Zoo Keeper for a Day experience at the Santa Barbara Zoo. You can catch up and read Part 1 of my experience here.
After lunch we headed out to the Capybara exhibit with Melanie. These animals are the largest rodents in the world, and are very skittish — we had to move slowly around these guinea pig relatives. Of the three animals in the exhibit,  only one was interested in eating the romaine lettuce from our hands.
Capybara feeding
I even got to pet him—he really enjoyed it.

Petting a capybara

After the rodent experience, we got to go into the barnyard with–you guessed it, barnyard animals.

Melanie showed us how she was in the process of training some baby goats, and we even got to feed them out of our hands.

Hand feeding a baby goat

Our last stop of our day was the elephant exhibit. I had sort of added the elephants in because  I thought it would be cool—the penguins and giraffes were definitely my top priority.
We got to interact with these Asian elephants in ways that I couldn’t imagine. Something really cool we got to do was to hose down the elephants. The elephants really loved the water, and it was such a unique experience. I never thought I’d ever get the opportunity to wash an elephant.

Elephant washing

After we washed the elephants we got to feed them. Watching how they use their trunks was just amazing. There are no words to describe being next to these huge, amazing creatures.

Asian elephant eye


Thank you to the Santa Barbara Zoo for offering this amazing opportunity, and thank you to the awesome keepers and staff for making this a memorable and wonderful day!


Zookeeper for a Day at the Santa Barbara Zoo Part 1

August 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

My awesome boyfriend gifted me with the experience of being zoo keeper for a day at the Santa Barbara Zoo. I got to pick animals to hang out with—it couldn’t have been a more perfect gift. Except I couldn’t utilize it in March ( when I got it for my birthday) because…the giraffes were pregnant, so we needed to wait until the babies were born and on exhibit. Baby giraffes?!! My perfect gift got even more perfect.
This was such a wonderful day, that I have to post about it in two parts: The morning and the afternoon.

Our day started out with the giraffe shift, which meant getting them from the giraffe barn out to the exhibit area. Something that is awesome about the Santa Barbara Zoo is that they don’t force their animals out to an exhibit area. The animals move at their own pace. For the giraffes, this meant calling them and rattling buckets of treats.
Once the adults got into the area, we were able to feed the giraffes. This was such a cool experience…I can’t even describe how it feels to have a giraffe eat out of your hands. So of course I took pictures and video.

Feeding the giraffes

Next we got to visit the Humboldt penguin exhibit. We got to get into the penguin exhibit and helped Lacey, their keeper, keep tally of their medication and food 9they love herring, by the way). We were literally surrounded by penguins as they waddled around us.
One penguin that stood out was Lucky. Lucky was born with a deformed foot—so Deckers partnered with the zoo to create a special boot so that Lucky could live a normal life.

Lucky the African black footed penguin

We got to feed a brown pelican and then visited these beautiful toucans.

Toucan at the Santa Barbara Zoo

I have never seen toucans in such close proximity–these birds are beautifully vibrant and very smart.
Our morning concluded with lunch with out keepers from the morning. The ladies were so sweet to tell us about their lines and to spend their lunch hour with us. It was  so cool to meet and chat with the keepers that take such great care of these animals.
Check back later this week for Part 2!

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