MAYBE YOU BELONG IN A ZOO! by Karen O'Coanor

MAYBE YOU BELONG IN A ZOO!

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Focusing almost exclusively on the San Diego zoo, but all-encompassing in the types of zoo jobs and careers it covers, O'Connor's survey manages to be both upbeat and honest in its projections. Readers are informed straight off that 40-to-60 percent of the employees in most zoos have no contact with the animals. They learn that the San Diego zoo currently has 10,000 applications on file for animal training jobs, that most keepers now have college degrees, and that San Diego's Curator of Mammals is the only zoo curator under 40 in North America without a Ph.D. (This is a job that pays $9,000 to $30,000 a year--while bus tour guides belong to the teamsters' union and make $9.74 an hour.) But everyone from the PR director to the food-service manager (for visitors' cafeterias) to the head security guard loves working at the zoo. Says the head butcher (for the animals' meat): ""I've worked in food markets but I like it here much better. We're cleaner here than the stores."" All those interviewed have something interesting to say. The horticulturist tells us: ""We want to landscape the enclosure like the animals' native habitats. I'm not sure that it really makes a difference to the animals. But it seems to help the public feel better about caged or captive animals."" Later, ""I'd love to get actual research going at the zoo showing how the animals relate to the plants in their enclosures."" The head merchandiser recalls a peacock's unscheduled visit to the gift shop; the mammal curator, who emphasizes that ""expeditions are rare happenings in today's zoos,"" tells of capturing a musk-ox in Alaska; and the dentist tells us how he performed oral surgery on an elephant (with a crowbar) and tracked down an abscess from a jaguar's photograph. For readers eager to get started, O'Connor ends with a sampling of student volunteer jobs, training programs, and youth activities at zoos across the country.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1982
Publisher: Dodd, Mead