Keeping's hard. It's tough on you physically - pulled backs, sprained muscles, mysterious leg bruises, etc. It's hard to eat healthy when you're constantly on the go, possibly working two jobs, and entry pay isn't that great. It's stressful, emotional, and easily leads to caretaker fatigue. It's never surprised me that so many new keepers drop out before too long.
I've often heard boards of zoos and aquariums say that they need to pay top dollar to keep a talented, capable administrator. But what about the talented and capable keepers? Who has their backs?
It was enjoyable to read about how San Diego Zoo is looking out for the wellness of its employees (not just animal care staff, of course). Book clubs. Healthy snacks. Yoga. Meditation. All great strategies to reduce the stress load on the staff.
One staff perk that was not mentioned in the article was professional development. In recent years, the zoo unveiled its San Diego Zoo Global Academy, an online teaching program for its keeper and education staff to help them grow as professionals. Recently, the zoo has opened up this program to staff at other zoos around the world.