Thursday, October 25, 2012

For Jim Alexander--Vintage St. Louis Zoo 1965


Jim A. said...

I had the opportunity to be one of Siegfried's keepers when I started at STL in 1966. He had been imported from Germany in 1962 with a female who didn't survive. These were the days of no husbandry training so working with him was a thrill. You'd stay with him while he ate his fish fillets (why?) then wait until he looked the other way and run for the door. Thousands of people probably have photos of reaching over the railing to rub Siegfried's whiskers.

The Zoo tried to get a companion for "Jake", as the keepers called him. Raising baby walrus was a challenge and the diet complicated, whipping cream ground clams, Casec powder, and more. Few animals survived only to have freak accidents. One did survive, Flo, but Siegfried died in 1976. It was decided to sell her to Sea World. She didn't work out as a display animal, she was use to attention being by herself. Flo was moved to the Sea Lion Show Arena and became the first of SW's performing walrus. She was a great animal that had a long, interesting life.

Wade G. Burck said...

Great stuff, thank you for sharing. "These were the day's(1966)" of no husbandry training, is an interesting comment as Twycross Zoo in England is currently involved in a controversy where " a very remote location where they obviously had problems of atracting experienced keepers. One experienced headkeeper worked alone long time, finally took vacation after 2 years. 3 younger keeper employed less than 2 years ago. The zoo did not send them to the elephant managers school," Dan Koehl The Elephant Team.
Nothing will ever replace hands on experience, particularly in the animal world. PhD's and letter's behind a name only impress human's. Animals, truth be told, could give a shit about what we "may" think we know from a book. Like a West Point Lt., in his freshly pressed uniform, until those "book learned theory's" are put to the test on the battle field, he is pissing in the wind. The one's who are blessed, have a battle experienced Staff Sergeant on staff who they can consult with, and have their hand held, until such time they really get their feet wet, and get down and dirty enough time's that they finally learn about what it is they are doing.
"Experience" has been replaced with "theory" in the world of animals, usually to the detriment of the animal. One step forward, and two steps back is what "letters" will normally bring to the table.