The Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden is celebrating National Zookeeper Week – taking place from July 16 through July 22. Our staff of zookeepers are hardworking, passionate and driven individuals who spend each day caring for the animals in their various departments! This week, we are highlighting six zookeepers; ranging from elephant to carnivore caretakers. Next up is Brank Frank! Brian Frank is the lead zookeeper of hoofstock at the OKC Zoo.
How long have you worked at the Zoo?
In October, I'll have been working at the OKC Zoo for 7 years.
What is a typical day like in your position?
All mornings start with a head check. We check on each animal in the area to ensure that everyone is healthy. Then, we shift all of the animals out of their habitat yards and into their barns so that we can clean, distribute food and prepare enrichment for the day. We also take this opportunity to do any training sessions that we have planned for the morning. Once the animals are back in their habitat yards, we begin cleaning the barns and work on any enrichment, maintenance or yard work projects. You may also run into us at the giraffe feeding platform or at one of our keeper chats. In the mid-afternoon, we start on evening meal preparations and shifting before final head checks at the end of the day.
Do you have a particular animal that you feel a closer bond with?
I will always have special place in my heart for Malee, the Asian elephant. She was such a large part of my life during her short time here. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as close to another animal as I was to her.
What's your favorite memory been?
One of my most exciting memories has been the well-baby checkups with the African Painted Dog puppies. To be part of the team that was entrusted to help transport them to the hospital and back was a great experience I’ll never forget.
What inspired you to pursue this career?
My college work study job at the Red River Zoo in Fargo, North Dakota, solidified my love for zoos, animals and this field.
Why do you feel that Zoos are important?
Zoos are important because they bring the unique experience of witnessing some the world's coolest and most endangered animals to communities across the country. It is our job to take that experience and turn it into an opportunity for our communities to learn about these animals so that they may foster a passion to save them.
What cause are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about raising awareness of the “Silent Extinction.” One of the world’s most recognizable animals, the giraffe, is going extinct and almost no one knows about it. The Oklahoma City Zoo partners with multiple conservation programs that are helping to save giraffes and their habitat. The Zoo's website is a great place to find information on what’s being done to save giraffes and how YOU can help.
What is your favorite conservation program that the Zoo partakes in?
The Zoo’s support of the Northern Rangeland Trust is my favorite conservation program. It continues to be one of the most successful conservation projects ever and showcases how community education and support is the key to conserving wildlife.