Tanganyika is a beautiful and interactive place, but it didn’t just become that way overnight! The people who work at Tanganyika are the ones who keep this whole place continuing on it’s path to becoming one of the best zoo experiences in America! So we want to give credit where it is due by providing some of our most talented zookeepers a chance to talk about what they do and who they are! This also gives you an opportunity to understand the hard work and creativity that goes into making TWP operate this well from day to day. This month I talked to Becca melton about her experience as a TWP keeper.
Where are you from?
How long have you worked at TWP?
Three and a half years this season!
Which animals do you care for?
All of the primates but the lemurs especially! They are my babies! Our older boys know me very well, Vegas especially knows me pretty well. When I first started, Vegas was at the bottom of the hierarchy so I would sneak him craisins cause the boys wouldn’t let him up on the post, so we are best buds and knows me as a walking craisin, which I'm ok with!
What is the daily routine you go through in caring for your animals?
It is definitely hectic. We always start first with our checks and making sure everyone is good, and there are no new babies. We then check for leftovers. We always make sure everyone has a fourth of a cup of food leftover in the mornings just so if they are ever hungry in the middle of the night they always have food, and if there is ever zero leftovers we will continually add to it for the next night. Of course, double check exhibits, put everyone out and get the insides cleaned out.
What is the best part of your job?
Definitely lemur island! Even though the sunburns and the heat, whenever you get those families that are really curious about the lemurs, and I get to share my nerdiness obsession with them, and they get so excited its a blast!
Who is your favorite animal in Tanganyika?
Vegas, the ringtail lemur!
What has been your favorite animal to the ambassador at TWP?
Definitely Yzma! Even though she is new, she is the most fun thing ever! She loves kisses, you don’t even use food cause she can get a little upset or biting when it comes to food cause food aggression is a thing, but whenever she wants you to hold her, she will lick the sweat off of you or fall asleep in your arms. She is a teddy bear, and so amazing guests love her. She is close to 4 years old, her and her boyfriend Kronk which came here recently!
If you could ambassador any animal in Tanganyika at all which animal would you choose?
Chewie, the sloth of course! I wish Oscar were more friendly also so I could carry them around all day!
If you could add an animal to the Tanganyika Experience what animal would you add?
Sifaka Lemurs like Zoboomafoo!
Where did you work before you started at TWP?
I interned at the Memphis Zoo for 3 and a half years in-between college classes and stuff, and I would always go home on the weekends, so I go, and by day 3 they gave me keys and gave me A routine!
If you weren’t a zookeeper what would you be?
Interior designer! I love putting stuff together and enjoy art!
What is your favorite Tanganyika memory?
This happens quite a bit, but when a kid has been afraid and I have shown them how friendly the lemurs are, and they turn around and love it and are excited about the lemurs I think “yeah! I effected that kids life!” It happens quite a bit. Actually, kids can be a little nervous about how the lemurs look but giving the kids the courage to do it and end up enjoying it is a good feeling.
What first inspired you to become a zookeeper?
My internship at the Memphis Zoo, I initially was pre-vet and was determined to be a zoo vet. When I started taking care of the animals at the Memphis Zoo, I realized I wanted to be part of the daily, like wanted to work with the same animals every day and have my babies instead of exams and death and part of the whole routine and I love consistency!
What is your favorite food they serve at the pavilion deli?
BBQ sandwich is by far my favorite!
How old were you when you wanted to become a zookeeper?
Around 20 is when I changed my focus to being a zookeeper?
What is your favorite event we do at Tanganyika?
Pumpkins at the Park! Mainly cause I get to cuddle with Quilliam in the creepy crawly room with me, but this year he might be apart of the stage show!
What animal do you feel you are the most like?
Red ruff lemurs cause I am ginger! I think I just want to be a lemur honestly but if I could choose, specifically the red ruff!
Thanks to Becca for all your hard work at Tanganyika. You’re joy and passion for your animals is excellent, and we are lucky to have you as part of our team! Thank you for all you do!