A bevy of zookeepers on the loose


I wanted to be a zookeeper and a lion tamer.

zoo2I also wanted to be a fighter pilot, join a circus and marry a fireman, but things don’t always work out the way you planned at the tender age of 5.

Of course, I ended up working in advertising so at least I got the circus bit covered.

I wanted my children to volunteer somewhere.

I wanted them to learn a little humility and understand responsibility.

Most importantly, the responsibility we have towards animals in our care.

After being turned down by every animal sanctuary in the greater Gauteng area, I found the Honey Badger Club at the Johannesburg Zoo.

As an adult I’ve lost some of the childlike naiveté I had about zoos and often question the need for their ongoing existence.

However, for many people the zoo will be the only interaction they ever have with animals and without that, we cannot expect them to grow up and preserve them.

Sadly, it looks like the last rhinos my children ever see will be in a zoo enclosure. Something sad to reflect on.

So, bright and early on Saturday morning, one a month, my kids pack a lunch and spend the morning at the zoo.

zoo3They clean out cages – porcupine poo apparently smells really really bad.

They feed the animals – dead chickens to the caracals.

They learn an immense amount about conservation, caring for wild animals and biology.

They learn how about the impact mankind has on the natural world.

They come back full of enthusiasm and bursting with information and excitement.

It only costs R450 for a year. That’s basically nothing.

You get a Saturday morning free of children to go for coffee or buy shoes.

They get to spend hours living out the dream of being a zookeeper.

The Honey Badger Club is for kids between 7 and 14 and Be Mad is for slightly older ones from 15 to 19.

The zoo is also home to the world’s only tweeting honey badger @zootweetslive. Check him out on YouTube and read more about his story here.

For more information on volunteering at the zoo.

Online: http://www.jhbzoo.org.za/

On the Honey Badger Club: http://www.jhbzoo.org.za/docs/Honey%20Badger%20Club%202014.pdf

Contact: jane.maema@jhbzoo.org.za


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