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Sunday, June 14, 2015

In the Line of Duty

Being a zookeeper is the only job I've ever wanted, and, for the most part, it's lived up to my imagination (and then some).  There are plenty of moments which are magical, and plenty which are hilarious (albeit sometimes only in retrospect), and many which are unforgettable.  There are also the bad times, however, times when the job can make you depressed, or lonely, or unbelievably uncomfortable.

There are also moments of danger.

The most obvious source of danger is the animals themselves, and when a keeper fatality does happen, it makes the news, usually internationally.  That's because they are fairly rare and very sensational - I mean, plenty of people get killed by guns, cars, and knives everyday but a lion?  As... dramatic as these cases are, however, they aren't the only source of danger.  When a disaster strikes, be it natural, such as a hurricane or fire of flood, or manmade, such as war or an act of terrorism, keepers can't leave their animals behind to suffer.  Sometimes that means putting themselves in danger to protect the animals they love.

Three keepers from the Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia (western Asia Georgia, not southern US Georgia) are reported drowned as they worked to save their zoo from severe flooding.  Animals have escaped from the rising water levels, some of which (especially the big predators) were destroyed to prevent them from endangering the public.  Last I read, ten people were reported killed by the floods so far, which makes about third of the human casualties thus far zookeepers.

I am so sorry to hear about the tragedy from Georgia.  Thoughts to the friends, families, and coworkers of those were lost.

A man shoots a tranquilizer dart to put a hippopotamus to sleep at a flooded street in Tbilisi, Georgia, 14 June 2015
Photo Credit: Reuters

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