Behind the Scenes at the Zoo

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Jul 25, 2009 at 6:56 PM EDT

This week marks National Zookeeper Week.

But what exactly does a zookeeper do?

Action News Reporter Leigh Dana takes us behind the scenes at the Binghamton Zoo.

When you go to the zoo, most people only think about the animals they are going to see.

"Lions and tigers and bears," says visitor Lauren Szerszen.

But what about what you don't see?

If you go behind this door restricted to employees only, it's a whole different view of the zoo.

Meet Kate Bilyk, one of eight zookeepers here at the Binghamton Zoo.

"We observe our animals and make sure they're healthy all the time.
When we are around we'll actually answer questions about what the animal does or what the animal is," says Bilyk.

You might also see Bilyk through the glass feeding the animals, like these reindeer.

What you won't see is her medicating or feeding some of the larger animals.

It happens behind the scenes.

Bilyk says, "When they're locked out in the open exhibit we just put their food in the backup enclosure which is their bedroom for the night.

And here's a room the public doesn't get to see. The kitchen.

Zookeepers spend 4 to 6 hours everyday preparing the food for all the animals.

"The meat is sometimes gross. It's a tube of meat. We've got frozen rodents and fish," says Zookeeper Kristin Nelson.

This food is for the ducks.

"In the wild they would eat greens and any type of root veggie they might get a hold of. So we cut up some yams, carrots and squash they get daily," says Nelson.

Daily procedures done behind the scenes, so that you're visit with furry and feathery friends is with a smile.

To become a zookeeper, Bilyk says you need a four year college degree in Zoology or Animal Behavior.

You also need many hours of interning experience.

In Binghamton, Leigh Dana WBNG TV Action News.

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