As a way of giving our fans and followers a peek behind the scenes of the inner most workings of Tanganyika Wildlife Park, we have begun interviewing a zookeeper each month. This month, we will be meeting Sarah Hipps and talking to her about her experience being a Tanganyika zookeeper.
How long have you worked at Tanganyika? 3 years. I started in early September.
What animals do you care for? I am the kangaroo and educational animal keeper, which means I take care of the kangaroos, but I also have the children zoo, like the rabbits and guinea pigs, and all the educational program animals like the ferrets, and sugar gliders, and hedgehogs, and rats.
Who is your favorite animal here? Maybe it’s because I’ve been working with him since I’ve been here, but Simon the kangaroo. We just have our own little understanding with each other of how things work and he is the first kangaroo I trained. So he’s pretty cool.
If you could add an animal to Tanganyika’s line up? I would definitely like either some more kangaroos or wallabies. Another thing that crossed my mind was some kind of canine. I’d like a chance the opportunity to work with a fox or even, to go along with the Australian theme, dingoes!
If you weren’t a zoo keeper what would you be? I really think I’d be doing something else like law enforcement or something because my dad was a police officer. So it’s something I’m very familiar with. I had actually looked at forensics briefly. I like the forensic science, because I’ve always enjoyed science itself.
What is your favorite Tanganyika memory? When I first started coming here to work as an intern, you just come through the gate and the giraffes are just standing right there. It just hits you first thing. It’s so open and you just feel so much closer than usual when you walk into some other place. Animal wise… the mamas do all of the raising with the kangaroos and the rabbits and the guinea pigs. So there isn’t always those moments to connect with those babies, so when we do have baby sugar gliders, when they come out of the pouch I remember that. When I’ve got two baby sugar glider that fit in the palm of my hand and they just sit in my hand and sleep.
What is your favorite Tanganyika event? Let’s see… I actually kind of do look forward to Halloween. It’s a really fun holiday. It is fun to get to dress up and have a bit of fun here and we get to do our job and show the animals in the Creepy Crawler area and interact with the animals and the people together.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to become a zoo keeper? However old I was three and a half years ago. That’s when I knew for sure. That’s when I got my internship. I’d been working through the university. I’d finally found my place in the biology department, I knew where I felt comfortable and I was enjoyed it. So when it came down to career I went through a few different opportunities before I found out that I really did want to try to be a zoo keeper.
Which animal are you most like? I really do feel it’s the roos. They’re stubborn. They have their energetic moments but their laid back ones too. They can be simultaneously so many things at once, cautious but curious, and lazy but active. They have their back and forths and they’re kind of a little bit of everything and I think that’s kind of what I am.