In celebration of National Zookeeper Appreciation Week, we are going to showcase the hard work, passion and dedication of our animal care providers! The zookeepers at the Sacramento Zoo work incredibly hard to help everyone learn the best possible ways to take care of the animals here. We always want our team members to exhibit our core values and in doing so, we can learn what is necessary for the conservation of each one of our animal residents. There are over 500 animals representing over 125 unique species at the Sacramento Zoo and our qualified zookeepers bring their experience, knowledge and devotion to provide the highest quality of care for the animals. Our animals are all extremely unique and have their own specific preferences. Our zookeepers work passionately and tirelessly to ensure that those needs are met. This week, we are giving some much-deserved appreciation to the keepers of the Sacramento Zoo by profiling a member of our team each day through Friday! They will share some of their favorite stories, experiences and how they got started in their fields. Stay tuned!
Let’s Meet Andrea Haverland!
Q: What’s your current position? What does your day-to-day entail?
A: I’m the primary primate keeper, since November. Really brief overview is that I do the daily care for the apes, monkeys, lemurs and sloth. Basically feeding, cleaning, training and enrichment.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Savannah, Georgia.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory?
A: The newest orangutan, Indah, going out of the shoot (on exhibit) for the first time. It was a lot of work, but it felt good to see her feel accustomed to the environment and comfortable enough to go out on exhibit.
Q: What’s the most challenging thing about being a zookeeper?
A: Animal deaths. After working so closely with primates, they are so similar to us. So, when one passes away it really affects me. That’s the hardest part.
Q: What’s something you want everyone to know?
A: Two things: the difference between an ape and a monkey. And that being a keeper is so much more than just cleaning up after and animal.
So, an ape does not have a tail, monkeys do. Next, being a keeper is a ton of hard work. It’s more than just cleaning, it’s an all-encompassing care of multiple species. It requires lots of knowledge to take care of them in the best way possible.
Q: Why do you think it is important to support the Sacramento Zoo?
A: Zoos are centers of animal care and conservation. Your admission fee helps take care of our animals and organizations outside the zoo that help with wildlife conservation and protection.
Q: What motivated you to want to become a zookeeper?
A: Several internships. Being close and caring for them every day. Being here I also get to teach the guest something they never knew before. Teaching at least one person something is very fulfilling.
Q: What is your favorite animal?
A: I love them all; primates are individuals. They all have their likes and dislikes. Their own personalities. But if I had to pick, then Indah, the zoo’s newest Sumatran orangutan.
Q: What is the best part about being a keeper besides, obviously, the animals?
A: I love that everyone here is passionate. It creates for a fantastic team environment. We are all here for the same reason and we all understand each other. We are here because we love what we do.
Q: What is the first zoo you worked/volunteered at?
A: Chimp Haven in Keithville, Louisiana. But I want to shout out Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, Delaware. Both places were crucial in landing my dream job here at the Sacramento Zoo.
Q: How long have you been a zookeeper?
A: I’ve been at Sacramento Zoo since November. But I’ve been a keeper for 2 ½ years total.
Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to be become a keeper?
A: Volunteer and intern as much as you can. Within those volunteer and internship programs, build relationships with the people you work with. And when you build your resume, highlight all your strength. It’s hard to brag about yourself but this field is very competitive.
Q: What is the most fun thing you’ve done at the zoo?
A: Joey’s 55th birthday party! We gave all the chimps watermelon, we had a huge ice cake, bubbles going on. It was a beach theme. It’s just a really good memory.
Q: Any comment or statement you would like to add about your life as a zookeeper?
A: If you’re traveling anywhere, go to the zoo in that area. And stop and talk to the keeper. They might look they are in a rush, but they are in this field because they love to help educated so they’ll love to talk to you about what’s going on. That’s what we are here to do.