1. Angry chimp
“We had this old female chimp who was always cranky—she was around 60 years old. The indoor rooms for the chimps had big windows ᴍᴀᴅe of bulletproof glass. Whenever this chimp would get excited or ᴍᴀᴅ she would run up and kick the window. This one time a nine-year-old boy was teasing her at the window for quite a while, and she was getting really ᴍᴀᴅ. She kept kicking the window and finally kicked it so hard she broke it. Fortunately, she ꜰʀᴇᴀᴋed out and hid in the corner rather than escaping. I heard the call on the radio and rushed down to the scene. The windows are expensive and not readily available, so facilities just put some plywood in its place for a couple weeks while the window was on order.”
2. Railroad owl
“We had an outdoor free-flight bird show, meaning the birds are free to fly wherever they wanted in the zoo. On this particular day, something spooked our Eurasian Eagle Owl and he took off. Eventually, someone found him on the railroad tracks. As a keeper cautiously approached the owl, we hear a train horn, look to our left, and a train is coming right towards us. We realized it was moving really slow and we could easily leave the bird to take off again and get out of the way. But, in what seemed like a second later, one of the keepers had the owl in hand and was putting him into a crate. We all quickly got out of the way of the train.”
3. Mocking macaw
“I worked at a zoo with a blue and gold macaw named Gomez. He was two years old so still a baby, and he was learning to mimic us. Whenever he was too loud, one of the keepers would tell him, ‘Shut up, Gomez.’ So one day she does this and we all hear back, “Shut up!” He had learned to tell himself to shut up.”
4. Star watching
“At night the roof window of the Orangutan’s building would always be open. Nobody knew why. After installing cameras they found out the Orangutan would open them and relax on the roof for the night.”
5. Snake bite
“Long story short, I was in a hurry. I opened an enclosure and startled a pine snake (non-ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍous). He sᴛʀᴜᴄᴋ and bit me on the nose. That brief moment when I realized what was happening was ᴄ.ʀ.ᴀ.ᴢ.ʏ! I caught the snake before he hit the floor. He was fine. We had a long, lovely relationship.”
6. Legs flying
“We were working on a sedated female ibex (mountain goat) who was having problems with giving birth. The female had been in labor for hours and was ᴇxʜᴀᴜsᴛed from trying to pass the baby, which was ᴛᴡɪsᴛed around and couldn’t fit through the birth canal. We soon found out that the baby had been ᴅᴇᴀᴅ for hours and was starting to ᴅᴇᴄᴏᴍᴘᴏse.
The shoulders were stuck and the vet couldn’t pull hard enough. She asked one of the zookeepers to grab hold of the legs and help her pull. He was fairly new at the zoo and this was the first time he had ever participated in this sort of procedure.
He knelt down next to the others and got a good grip on one of the legs. Soon someone commented that they could feel it start to move. Suddenly, the baby’s shoulder gave way and the new keeper found himself holding the unattached leg in his hands. His face expressed quite plainly that this possibility had never crossed his mind; in fact, for a few seconds, he looked as if he might lose his lunch.
The vet, however, was thrilled. It was the shoulders that were stuck; if they could get the other one off too the baby would practically slide out. So, having fought once to keep his lunch down, that keeper gamely did the same for the other leg. Only this one was worse because he knew what to expect.
In the end, though, as the veterinarian had predicted, with both shoulders gone, the baby was pulled out easily. And, although she was no doubt sᴏʀᴇ for a while, the female ibex came through fine.”