We put our passion for wildlife to work at Zoo New England, but outside Zoo gates, we remain dedicated to conservation both locally and globally.
A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper at Franklin Park Zoo
Meet zookeeper, Hannah Keklak, a zookeeper in Franklin Park Zoo's Children's Zoo and Franklin Farm. From feeding, cleaning, and training, hear from Hannah what an average day on the job entails, and why she just can't stop coming back.
Video courtesy of BU Today, Boston University
View BU Today's feature on Hannah: "Life’s a Zoo for CAS Alum: Hannah Keklak cares for a host of unusual animals at Franklin Park Zoo"
Video produced by BU Today, Boston University
Producer and Editor: Jason Kimball
Production Associate: Amy Laskowski
Giving our Best for the Nest
You’ve heard the phrase: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” but have you seen it in action? Zoo New England staff and volunteers display their extraordinary will to protect, preserve and improve the lives of animals on a daily basis. Visit our Bird’s World exhibit for a shining example of this dedication.
Thanks to the efforts of one such volunteer, Franklin Park Zoo’s Gouldian finches, budgerigars, kiwis and pygmy falcons have all received wooden nesting boxes handcrafted for their individual needs. Boxes provide cavity-nesting birds with shelter and a private spot to reproduce or tend to their young, so it’s important that birds feel comfortable in these spaces.
Working with staff, this Bird’s World volunteer creates each nesting box to exact specifications, literally down to the nuts and bolts. Certain materials are unfavorable or even toxic to some species, but fine to use for others. There’s research and careful planning behind every nesting box created, which is why they can take weeks to complete. Be sure to check out our volunteer’s work, most easily seen in the Gouldian finch exhibit if you look along the left-hand wall.
Build your own nesting box
Inspired by our nesting boxes? Build your own box and become a certified “NestWatcher,” assisting NestWatch --a nationwide nest-monitoring program-- in their efforts to learn more about the impact of environmental change on bird reproduction.
In the wild, nesting boxes can provide needed shelter and brooding space, due largely to habitat loss from increased development and removal of trees. Different design features target the habits and preferences of individual bird species and design plans are available for a wide range of nesting boxes including the chickadee PVC nest tube, tree swallow, eastern bluebird, small songbirds, owls, mourning dove, and American robin. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a treasure house of information about the birdhouse network and can provide specific information on species preferences.
Here are the basic birdhouse guidelines and considerations: use of natural untreated wood (pine, cedar or fir), walls at least ¾ inch thick for insulation, properly sized entrance hole and placed at the correct distance from the ground, extended sloped roof and recessed floor with drainage holes to protect against heavy rain and ventilation holes to keep the interior cool. Also, to assist the fledglings’ exit, rough or grooved interior walls. (Sometimes an adult bird is unable to climb its way out and will get stuck in boxes because the inside walls are too smooth.) Caution: no outside perches that aid predators but do secure a predator guard at the bottom.
A nesting box should be monitored for activity, and once eggs are in place viewing times should be limited to less than a minute once a week.
Just for Kids!
Learn how to become a certified NestWatcher in our Kids' Corner!
Sit. Stay. Save a cheetah.
UPDATE: December, 2016
Bartos returns to Namibia to reunite with Finn and CCF for additional trainings. Read her "Notes from the Field" here.
"We took [Finn] to a location where wild cheetahs were known to frequent and on his first day he found five scat samples – four of which we would not have found without him."
Assistant curator Chris Bartos spends her free time training dogs, but one of her pooches isn’t just winning agility competitions—he’s part of a global mission to save cheetahs in the wild. Bartos’ rescued border collie, Finn, was part of the Cheetah Conservation Fund's (CCF) cheetah census team, trained to sniff out cheetah scat (poop) in order to track the cats’ movements. Bartos traveled with Finn to Namibia, where she helped CCF staff learn how to work with the dog to search for and indicate scat.
Scat location is recorded with a GPS device and then analyzed by geneticists to identify individual cats through DNA, examine diets, and track cheetahs’ range. Based on the results, CCF uses data regarding population size (which is steadily decreasing) and distribution to aid in conservation strategies.
Finn is now a full-time partner at CCF in the fight to save the wild cheetah, and Bartos hopes to return to Africa to continue her important work.
Tending to an 18-foot Giraffe: Chronicle Video
You might say Amanda Giardina's job is one tall order. She's the lead giraffe keeper at Franklin Park Zoo. Check out WCVB-TV Chronicle's interview with Giardina to learn more about the Zoo's giraffes and what it takes to care for them.
Watch video (Franklin Park Zoo segment begins at 3:55)