TAMPA, Fla. — It's National Zookeeper Week and we're paying tribute to our community animal caretakers like Jason Green, the Curator of Rhinos and Hoofstock at Busch Gardens.
The Tampa, Florida, native has been working at Busch Gardens for 29 years.
In that time, Green has acquired enough animal knowledge to fill the internet.
And that knowledge goes from what they eat to how they poop.
You read that right—the guy could be a poop master.
How good is he? He started to explain how tooth indentions on grass in rhino poop could help tell whether it was a White or Black Rhino.
I’m not kidding.
And neither was he.
Turns out, poop is serious.
Checking poop is a sort-of health indicator—color, size, shape, contents, consistency, smell—that’s right smell.
Do beginning keepers know what a big factor poop is in their new career?
“Uh if you don’t, you will very fast. I mean within the first hour you’re submersed in this,“ Green said laughing.
We got the privilege of hand feeding Jody, a Black Rhino who just celebrated her 30th birthday.
It’s something guests can do in the park’s Animal Encounters.
It’s my second time meeting Jody and feeding her carrots and apples.
And it was even more awesomer [Dear editor: I totes meant that I don’t know how to explain the coolness!]
[FROM THE EDITOR: Just this once it's OK, VJ. We know you get exited and start making up words.]
Green and his staff show deep affection for these animals, calling to them like a brother or sister when they arrive at their habitat.
And they don’t care about rooting around in their poop — they are unfased.
Does Jody know she is a critically endangered animal in our world, and her life is held up as an example of something worth saving in this world?
Who knows what she knows.
But Green knows.
And now you do too.
Happy National Zookeeper Week.