Between Memorial Day and Labor Day I do a daily keeper chat. It's basically an informal talk where I go out and answer questions and give general information about the animals. In previous years I've done tiger, tortoise, emu and camel chats. The worst ever was a capybara enrichment demonstration. I'd come up with amazing enrichment ideas and the capybaras (largest rodents in the world) would sit in the shade and not move. Ever. I mean, they never did anything. Visitors supposedly like the "insider information" the keepers can provide. Yeah. I don't really think most visitors are that excited about getting to talk to a Real Zookeeper. I mean, many people think I have a cool job, but most don't care if they get their info from a keeper, an educator, a volunteer or a sign. Actually, most don't want ANY information.
Of course, there's always an exception to the rule... Sometimes I have a visitor who is THRILLED to talk to a Real Zookeeper. Someone who asks question after question and expands my usual 10-15 minute chat into a 30+ minute, I'm going to pass out from heat and hunger chat. (My chat is at 12:30pm and I usually go to lunch right afterward.) I've had people yap on and on about everything from animal rights to Creationism. The number of people who assume I'm a vegetarian astounds me.
Today I had a crazy cat woman. This year my chat is in front of the large lion viewing windows. I walked out to the windows and she pounced. I gave some general information and then broke into my insider information. Cat Woman got really excited and started talking about our lioness' "cattitude" and how she shares so many "cattributes" with her house cat. She went on and on, using these terrible puns. I was about to explode with laughter. I wanted to scream. I had to stand there and act pleasant, as if I thought CATTRIBUTES was actually clever! Wow. I practically ran to lunch to share my new vocabulary with my coworkers. I decided to change my keeper chat from an informal talk to a formal, scripted speech with at least every 5th word a "cat" word. Yep, Cat Woman was the CATalyst to my CATtempt to CATtain a larger CATtendance at my chats. Perhaps I'll need a CATtorney to defend me when I'm CATtacked for my CATrocious puns :)