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Q&A with a zookeeper: Bill Bennett

Categories: Zookeeper Profile

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 nearly 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 Bill Bennett!

Q: What’s your current position? What does your day-to-day entail? 
I’m the Primary Reptile Keeper, and I’ve been at the Sacramento Zoo for three years. My-day to-day is to do life checks, prepare diets, feed them and look at the filtration aquatic system. Also working on ‘living art’ which is designing the animal exhibits.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A:  The suburbs of Chicago

Q: Favorite Memory?
Working on the giant garter snake exhibit. The design of the rice field was a difficult design to do, so working on it was very challenging. Making the exhibits is one of my favorite thing to do.

Q: Most challenging thing about being a zooeeper?
It’s a living job, it’s always changing. We have to keep up with all the research to make sure we aren’t doing things that are outdated and doing them properly.

Q: Something you want everyone to know? 
 I’m a really busy zookeeper. I do lots of stuff outside of work that condition my skills, like volunteer work and other jobs.

Q: Why do you think it is important to support the Sacramento Zoo?
 We help educate the public. We inform people why these animals are in our care and why we need to protect them.

Q: What motivated you to want to become a zookeeper?
I originally wanted to be a wildlife biologist, but I needed more experience. So, I went to a small zoo that was hiring interns by my college and loved it after the first day!

Q: What is your favorite animal?
 Cleo, the zoo’s giant garter snake. She was injured in a rice field and at first did not like being handled, but now she really enjoys it. If I take Cleo out for keeper chats she will fall asleep in my hands. The Sacramento Zoo houses the only one in an AZA-accredited facility.

Q: What is the best part about being a keeper besides, obviously, the animals?
Learning about the filtration, designing the exhibits, but mostly, teaching is my favorite. Teaching and training the new staff and having them take my knowledge and modifying it to become better than I am in the future.

Q: What was the first zoo you worked/volunteered at? 
Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois. It’s small, about six-acre AZA-accredited zoo and I was a seasonal swing keeper.

Q: How long have you been a zookeeper?
A: 9 years total.

Q: What is the most fun thing you’ve done at the Sacramento Zoo?
Going to conferences to learn new ideas. Then bringing back that knowledge and modifying it to fit our own collections.

Q: Any comments or statement you would like to add about your life as a zookeeper?
 This job is very rewarding; the animals keep it very rewarding. Additionally, a big part of our job is helping save the world through conservation.