Zoo tiger aids learning process for young zookeepers
By Samantha Johnson
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
As a part of the Jr. Zookeepers program at Ellen Trout Zoo, several students had the opportunity Tuesday morning to observe the annual physical done on one of the zoo’s two tigers.
“It’s a good learning experience for them,” said Charlotte Henley, zoo education director.
In addition to watching the examination done by staff veterinarian Dr. Michael Nance, the students were able to take paw prints of the tiger. During physicals the tiger, Baram, is anesthetized so the process is quite safe, officials said. The drug Ketamine is used to anesthetize him, the same anesthetic used on domestic cats.
Baram is a Malayan tiger and was donated to Ellen Trout Zoo in 2005. He was born at the San Diego Zoo, and his parents both belonged to the Cincinnati Zoo.
During the checkup, his teeth and nails were inspected and cleaned. Checkups are when animals are given vaccinations and blood is checked for potential health issues.
The Jr. Zookeepers program is open to students 10-12 years old, going into the 7th, 8th or 9th grade. Unlike the other summer program the zoo offers, there is a selective application process students go through before acceptance into the Jr. Zookeepers program.
“It’s a competitive program — the competition is pretty stiff,” Henley said.
The program lasts for two weeks and during that time the Jr. Zookeepers get to work with staff zookeepers and learn the realities of the job.
“We don’t sugarcoat things for them. They are approaching the time in their lives when they are starting to seriously think about college and career plans, and this helps them decide if this is what they want to do or not,” Henley Said.