During National Zookeeper Week, July 15 through 21, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is profiling a few of the hardworking, passionate and driven individuals who spend each day caring for its animals. First up is Brian Whitsitt, hoofstock animal caretaker.
What animals do you care for?
I work in the hoofstock department which includes but not limited to the giraffe, okapi, bison, several deer species and zebra.
What motivated or inspired you to become a zookeeper?
I started volunteering at the Tulsa Zoo at the age of thirteen. I have been working with zoo or domestic animals basically from the age of sixteen. Does anyone know what motivates a teenager?
What is your favorite part of your job?
Being outside working with animals in our care during the cooler months of the year.
What is an animal story that always makes you laugh?
Watching Ellie the giraffe try to sneak food treats off of the food prep table.
How long have you worked at the OKC Zoo?
I have been at the Zoo for 23 years.
What is a conservation project that you are proud that the OKC Zoo supports or that you're particularly passionate about?
All of them.
What is your favorite type of enrichment to prepare?
My favorite type of enrichment is involves changing the physical essence of an animal habitat. This usually involves a skid steer loader to move logs, sand or dirt.