Wanna be a zookeeper?

The camp follows a certain itinerary and timetable -- video screening, zoo rounds, safari rounds and field visits to watch the animals closely, besides other activities.

Published: 15th May 2022 04:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th May 2022 04:38 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

SHIVAMOGGA: Want to get up, close and personal with wild animals? You could turn zookeeper at the Tyavarekoppa Tiger and Lion Safari,  carry out the duties of an animal keeper, watch your wards closely and even go on a safari. ‘Be a Zoo Keeper’ is a special three-day training programme initiated by safari officials to promote interest in animals among students and the public, and educate and motivate them on the conservation of wildlife.

The camp follows a certain itinerary and timetable -- video screening, zoo rounds, safari rounds and field visits to watch the animals closely, besides other activities. The participants perform the duties and work of animal keepers within safe limits, check the health status of animals, how they are being fed, and whether cleanliness has been maintained in their cages and enclosures.

The training programme has received good response from the public and students, Executive Director of Tyavarekoppa Tiger and Lion Safari B Mukund Chandra told The New Indian Express.“Students and others who participated in the training liked the programme and appreciated that they had an informative experience. Participants are chosen based on first come-first serve basis. We are getting more applications for the programme, so the training will be conducted batchwise. We have completed with two batches and a few more batches are lined up,” he said.

Nishika, an 11-year student from Shivamogga, said the training camp was an educational experience. “We were taught about the enrichment of animals, the food system, behaviour of animals and other aspects. I had little knowledge about birds, but after the programme I got a lot of information about them, and I recommended the programme to my other classmates and friends,” she said.

Gagan S V, an engineering student at JNNCE College, said the training programme has inspired him to become a volunteer at the safari. “We were taught all aspects about the animals like enrichment, food system, food timings, enclosures, how animals are maintained in different weather conditions, signboards, how to call animals and ways of interacting with them. We had an interactive session with the zookeepers too. I am willing to become a volunteer at the safari,” he said.

Sameena Izashaik, education officer at Tyavarekoppa Tiger and Lion Safari, said feedback from most of the participants is that three days is too short to learn about animals.“In other countries, there is good scope to become animal keepers, and this is the first step if the participant is interested in becoming a zookeeper. They have less theory classes and more field activities in the training programme. Participants are taught to observe if animals are ill, maintain hygiene around them, identify tricks when there are many animals of the same group, and many other aspects of animal behaviour. Anyone with an interest in animals, who are aged above 10 years, can participate.

There were a few participants from Bengaluru, and more people from Bengaluru have registered to take part in the next batch. Participation certificates will be given to them,” she said. Two batches -- one of 16 and the other of 10 participants -- were trained in April. One of the most important aspects of training is guiding the participants on food patterns of the animals. Sameena Izashaik said they are shown how each animal is given food in its enclosure, the ingredients and quantity. Identification of animals, the patterns on their bodies, and how to differentiate them when they are in large numbers is also taught.

“Not all leopards have the same pattern on their bodies, participants of the camp are taught minute details like differentiating between the designs on their bodies,” she said. All safety guidelines are followed when the participants are taken behind the animal enclosures. Not everyone gets this kind of hands-on opportunity, she added. “The students also draw suitable habitats for animals, and many children have designed sketches of enclosures which is quite interesting as it shows their understanding level and creativity,” Sameena said.


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