I travelled to Knowsley Safari Park to complete the academy course after loving the Blackpool Zoo Keeper Academy.
Every keeper I meet I’m asking what is the predominant health problem for their animal.
We mucked out the indoor giraffe enclosure (light work with 12 other people) so I talked to the keeper about overseeing the giraffes health. The keeper will spend 40 minutes twice a day mucking out, preventing their hooves getting dirty. This makes hoof checking more difficult and more susceptible to problems. In the past, they were fed a lot of fruit which caused digestive problems. They eat hay, pellets and browse.
I was informed that there were five giraffes… Two were euthanised and one passed away due to pneumonia. Freedom to animal health care is one of the five freedoms and euthanasia protcols are under this. The five freedoms are what animal welfare is dictated by. Local authorities carry out inspections every three years using the Secretary of States Modern Zoo Practice Handbook to give out zoo licenses. All those who hold animals not normally domesticated in the UK require a zoo licence under the zoo licensing act 1981.
Giraffes will stand all day, they only sleep 30 minutes each 24 hours (stood up), they also give birth stood up (the baby will fall 2m). So it is important for giraffes in captivity to be trained, to prevent the animals having to be sedated as they may not get back up. As snow and ice is a risk to giraffes as they might fall, they are kept indoors at night in the winter.
Each day the keeper will spend 15-20 minutes for foot care. We spoke about goats foot rot and the keeper told me he had treated it twice (trimming hooves and spraying with Terramycin spray).
The keepers oversee their animals’ health and log it, but the zoo vet is in twice a week to treat any problems that have been flagged up.
In the theory lesson I learned about giraffe biology: