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Featured Keeper: Rebecca Turner

Thursday, April 6 2017 3:30 PM
By Lucas Knuass

Tanganyika is a wonderful and interactive place, but it didn’t just become that way over night! 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 giving some of our most talented zoo keepers a chance to talk about what they do and who they are! This also gives you a chance to understand the hard work and creativity that goes into making TWP operate well from day to day. This month I talked to Rebecca Turner about her experience as a TWP keeper.

How long have you worked at Tanganyika?  I’ve worked here just over two years. March 28th makes it two years.


What animals do you care for? I am a primate keeper and I just phased out of helping out in the kitchen. I was kitchen staff for about six months, my first summer I was just an intern and during that time I worked only with primates, fell in love with them specifically the lemurs. Then later we were needing kitchen staffs for the winter and I was like, “Oh yeah, great!”


Who is your favorite animal here? My favorite animal is the lemurs, specifically Vegas because he’s the sweetest lemur on the planet! When I first started as an intern he was at the very bottom of the hierarchy so he was more likely to hang out with us and stay away from the other lemurs since they would pick on him a little. So I would sneak him craisins because the other lemurs wouldn’t let him have any. I just made sure he got his fruit for the day. He’s not at the bottom of the hierarchy now, he’s more toward the middle, but he does still love us!


If you could add an animal to Tanganyika’s line up? Easy! Sloths! Two toed sloths! I Jim is wanting to get them for ambassadoring eventually. Everyone already knows that if we get sloths that Becca’s on sloths! I’m that crazy person who has sloths and lemurs as their go to!


If you weren’t a zoo keeper what would you be?  I’d probably go into something, though it’s totally different, I love interior design. If you give me a theme no matter how different it is from another one I will create a room! I’ll tell you what you need for the room, pick it out, make things match, and that’s like my favorite thing to do. I love it. It’s definitely a cleaner occupation but I do love this one!


What is your favorite Tanganyika memory? There’s quite a few. Most of them a funny co-worker antics. This is more of a general experience and not so much a specific memory, but whenever we get new interns I love seeing how passionate they are! I love getting to share how excited I am about the lemurs and to see someone else who is also like, “Yeah I love these guys!” And I’m like, “Hey, I just met you and you’ve got to meet these lemurs!” Then they just click with the lemurs so fast and they get it and I’m like, “Oh yeah! Crazy lemur buds!” Having the interns come in and just sharing that crazy animal love. It’s easy to make friends here because we are all so passionate about animals. My favorite Tanganyika memory is from Halloween when I dressed up in my lemur onesie and got to feed my favorite group of lemurs, which is bachelor 1!


What is your favorite Tanganyika event?  Probably Pumpkins at the Park, especially with Quilliam (Our ambassador porcupine.)  Last year I got to hang out with Quilliam most of the time and he would just take a nap while people would come up and pet him. It was super awesome. Of course you get people wanting to know if he’s going to throw quills but then I get to share that porcupines can’t actually do that. It’s fun though and I get to spread knowledge, so that’s fun! Also it’s fun just to be in the park at night!


Favorite meal served at the pavilion deli? Definitely the pulled pork sandwich… with a side of lays… diet pepsi.


How old were you when you knew you wanted to become a zoo keeper? Really, I fell in love with zoo keeping when I was nineteen, I started interning at the Memphis Zoo. I would volunteer there just doing regular things, but then I’d been there for about a year and a half and they wanted to know if I wanted to intern in nocturnal. It was amazingly quick how fast they put me in a keeper position. They had one day I trained, second day they watched me do the cleaning, then third day they just handed me the spare keys and told me to go do the routine! That’s when I know I wanted to be a part of the everyday care. I loved having my own… babies essentially. I mean getting that relationship with the animals is really awesome!


Which animal are you most like? I'm more like the red ruff lemurs, because I’m a ginger like them and also I love bananas like them, bananas are my absolute favorite!

Thanks to Becca for all your hard work at Tanganyika. We apprciate the amount of passion and charisma you bring to our park! Thank for being the ray of sunshine that you are. May you life be lemur filled forever!

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