As a way of giving our fans and followers a peek behind the scenes of the inner workings of Tanganyika Wildlife Park, we have been interviewing a zookeeper each month. This month, we will be chatting with Deb Martin and talking to her about her experience being a Tanganyika zookeeper.
How long have you worked at Tanganyika? Seven years this February. So seven years and a couple of months.
What animals do you care for? I am one of the carnivore keepers. I specialize in the smaller sized carnivores. So that’s the Clouded Leopards, Servals, Lynx, Fossa which are awesome, and even some of the really small carnivores like Pallas Cats or Pica our Zorrilla.
Who is your favorite animal here? Clouded Leopards are my favorite but I pretty much love all the animals I work with. I really liked a Clouded Leopard we don’t have anymore, she was tricky to work with but we formed a bit of a bond and it got easier to work with her. So she’s always been kind of special. Her name is Stormy! Out of the Clouded Leopards I work with now, we’ve got a youngster named Typo. He’s just at the right age to be very playful and ornery. We have a good time together.
If you could add an animal to Tanganyika’s line up? Any cat! Any kind of cat! Like an Ocelot or a Sand Cat.If you weren’t a zoo keeper what would you be? A veterinarian. Always wanted to work with animals. As early as I can remember I wanted to work with animals. My dad always had a real gift when it comes to animals so I think I just got that from him.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to become a zoo keeper? When I was a kid my mom and I would go to Sedgwick County Zoo all the time, but it never occurred to me that I could be one of the people who actually took care of the animals. So basically in college I said, “Why don’t I try to get into zoo keeping?” I don’t know why I never put two and two together when I was younger that I could be one of those people doing cool things with animals. I wanted to work with animals very early on, but actual zoo keeping… Let’s just say the light bulb didn’t click till later!
What is your favorite Tanganyika memory? I think working with the youngsters. Working with the young cats we hand raise, not necessarily bottle feeding in the nursery although that’s definitely part of it, but just being part of their growing up process.
Favorite meal served at the pavilion deli? I don’t even know what they serve at the deli! Although I’m really glad they have the pulled pork sandwich, I just never seem to eat there!
What’s your favorite Tanganyika event? I enjoy the Halloween event, Pumpkins in the Park. I usually try to be one of the keepers dressed up for the photo area. I’ve got a funny story about that. You know the grocery store Aldi? One time I was checking out there and I was in my work clothes, they all say Tanganyika on them. The guy behind the counter said, “I’ve got a photo of you on my mantle.” It turned out it was a photo from Pumpkins in the Park.
Which animal are you most like? I would be a cat, because I’m a cat person. I’m not really sure which kind though.
Thank you to Deb for all the work and care she has put into the animals she cares for here at Tanganyika. It was great to sit down with you and learn what makes you passionate about your job as well as for the animal kingdom!