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 Jason Skaleske!
Q: What’s your current position? What does your day-to-day entail?
A: Float keeper, which means I’m trained in all five animal areas. Day-to-day I prepare diets and make sure the animals were okay throughout the night. Next, I feed, clean, give enrichment items to the animals and various other routine tasks that needs to be done for them. Throughout the day, I spend time observing and training the animals. At the end of the day I get them settled in for the evening.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Omaha, Nebraska.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory?
A: Jason has way too many memorable experiences to just settle on one, but he offered this; “honestly I just enjoy coming to work and making the animal’s lives better. I like educating visitors. I just enjoy being here. It’s fulfilling being in this field.”
Q: What’s the most challenging thing about being a zookeeper?
A: Getting to know the minds of various species and looking through their eyes. In other words, putting oneself in the animals’ perspective. You can easily get lost in your job and doing a task so I want to make sure that I keep their unique personalities and perspective in mind.
Q: What’s something you want everyone to know?
A: The importance and role we play in this world and the long-term effects that humans have on this planet.
Q: Why do you think it is important to support the Sacramento Zoo?
A: Because of the conservation efforts and awareness about saving species and protecting animals.
Q: What motivated you to want to become a zookeeper?
A: I’ve wanted to be a zookeeper since childhood. I grew up on a farm. My parents loved animals and I’ve always had a lot of pets. Animals have always been a passion of mine.
Q: What is your favorite animal?
A: “ALL!” Jason elaborated that the animals he considers his “favorite” are not because of the species type, rather his favorite because of their personalities. The animals in our care have unique personalities, traits and distinctive characteristics that differentiate them from one another.
Q: What is the best part about being a zookeeper besides, obviously, the animals?
A: Being outside, being creative, working with my hands. Exhibit designing is fun. I just like creating a better, healthy environment.
Q: What is the first zoo you worked/volunteered at?
A: Sacramento Zoo. First and only.
Q: How long have you been a zookeeper?
A: 15 years! Since 2003.
Q: What is the most fun thing you’ve done at the Sacramento Zoo?
A: I’m a jokester. I like bringing laughter every day to my coworkers and the visitors. I want everyone to have a good day, including the animals.
Q: Any comments or statement you would like to add about your life as a zookeeper?
A: I’ll leave you with my favorite quote; ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present, so enjoy it!’