We are kicking off October with our 4th Keeper Feature! This blog series is where we hold a Q&A interview with one of our dedicated zoo keeper members to show everyone the amazing work they do. It’s a fun way to take a behind-the-scenes look at the daily activities of zoo keepers. Check out our other Keeper Feature’s about our Animal Care Manager & Media Spokesperson, Menita Prasad, our Carnivore & North American Section Head, Rita Findlay, and our African & Asian Section Head, Martha McIntosh.  

This month's spotlight is on Dave McDonald, our Section Head of Vivarium and South American/Australian Routes. He loves to make a difference in the lives of animals, and can’t help but get excited about an animal ‘comeback’ story, especially if he played a role in it. Read more about the work that Dave does below.  

Q: What is your full name, and title at the Zoo?  

A: Dave McDonald - Section Head of Vivarium and South American/Australian Routes  

Q: How long have you worked at the Greater Vancouver Zoo?  

A: 9 years  

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a Zookeeper?  

A: Making a difference in the lives of animals, in all the different ways that we do that.  

Q: What is the most memorable work day since you’ve been a Keeper at the zoo?  

A: When our Burmese python, Silas, finally ate after about not eating for about a year and a half.  That was a fantastic feeling.  Really, watching any animal make a comeback is a great, but if you played a role in the comeback it is even better.  

Q: What does a typical day look like in your role?  

A: Depends.  Some days I am on a route, which means I am the primary zookeeper in charge of a particular section for that day.  In that case I am doing all the tasks necessary to properly feed, clean, and provide enrichment for all the animals on that route.  These are busy days no matter how experienced you are.  Our zookeepers all put in a tremendous amount of work every day.  When I am not on a route I have free time to take care of larger projects, conduct training, and do paperwork.  When I can I also like to chat with customers and do impromptu animal encounters.  I also do a couple of our scheduled interpretive talks.  

Q: Who is your favourite animal at the zoo and why?  

A: No zookeeper will admit to having a favorite animal and most actually don't have one.  I will say that I am most familiar with reptiles.  

Q: You’re the Zookeeper for carnivorous animals, what encouraged you to want to work with this particular group of animals?  

A: I deal with carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.  I really like the diet formulation side of zookeeping, so taking care of animals with a good variety of diets is great for me.  

Q: What’s your favourite saying/phrase or quote?  

A: “We should be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brain falls out.”  - Richard Dawkins   

Q: A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?  

A: Hopefully he is here to return my sombrero.  

Q: If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?  

A: I would like to know what it is like to be a snake.  Moving around with no legs, having a body where your tail is 5 meters from your head, being able to visualize heat, the secondary sense of smell, those would all be interesting experiences.    

It takes a lot to be a great zookeeper like Dave and all the other members of our team. The Zoo is happy to give our keepers a moment in the spotlight to thank them for all their hard work. If you want to know more about Dave and the animals he cares for, come see him at the Greater Vancouver Zoo for his daily Keeper Talk

Stay tuned for next month’s Keeper Feature when we interview another member of our hardworking zookeeper family!