We’re very excited to share our 5th keeper feature! Our keeper feature blog series involves an interview with one of our dedicated zoo keepers to showcase their amazing work. We think it’s a fun way for us to share what being zoo keeper is really like, behind the scenes.

This month’s spotlight shines ever so brightly on Mireille Melen, Animal Keeper for South American and Australian animals. Mireille works extremely hard to better the lives of the animals she works with. She loves to work with such a wide range of animal species and enjoys overcoming the challenges they present. Read more about Mireille and all the fantastic work she does below!  

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

A: Mireille Melen, Animal Keeper

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

A: Eleven years

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a Zoo keeper? 

A: Working each day to improve and enrich the life of the animals I work with, as well as educating people about the importance of conservation. Another focus of mine at the GV Zoo is the health and safety of the amazing staff I work with.

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

A: Watching a baby giraffe be born. Such a long drop to start a new life.

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

A: I provide the daily care for an assortment of small mammals, birds, and reptiles. I prepare diets, clean, and provide enrichment.

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

A: My favourite animal at the GV Zoo is the Nene, Kauai. She hatched the summer I started working at the Zoo and I’ve worked with her on and off for her whole life. She recognizes me when I talk with her. She’s a great ambassador for her species. Nene, a type of goose, are native to Hawaii and are listed as vulnerable but their numbers are increasing due to conservation efforts.

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

A: There is such a wide diversity of species from these areas that working with them always provides new opportunities to learn and new challenges to overcome.

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

A: UNLESS someone like you

Cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better.

It’s not.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

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

A: “I think I made a wrong turn somewhere but it’s been a fantastic journey.”

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

A: A swan. Everyone thinks they are beautiful but nobody messes with them.