Zookeeper for a Day

I recently received an exciting phone call from my agent -- I've been offered a new book contract! (Woo hoo!) This book is tentatively entitled The Zookeeper's Daughter, and it is set in (you guessed it) a small zoo. Since I've never actually worked in a zoo, I knew I'd need to do some research to make sure I protrayed the setting accurately. So I contacted Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo and signed up to become a Keeper for a day. I have to tell you, that was the most fun I've ever had researching a book!

It was an eye-opening experience, and my admiration for zookeepers soared to new heights. I did know that they spend a lot of their time cleaning up after the animals in their care. That's a given. But I didn't realize how personally attached they become to those animals. This is not merely a job to these people -- it's a passion. And it's hard work. Zookeepers these days have degrees in some aspect of animal science, and some of them have multiple degrees. Zoos don't like to hire people with no experience, so many of them work as volunteers after they've earned their degree just to get some experience caring for exotic animals. The pay isn't great (one person told me she could probably make more money managing a fast food restaurant), but the atmosphere is incredible. Imagine watching a snow leopard give birth, or hand-feeding a baby orangatan, or raising a hatchling penguin, or feeding carrots to a porcupine. (Which I got to do!)

I know my experience will add a richness and depth to my story that wouldn't have been there otherwise. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait a while to read it. The publisher hasn't even selected a release date for this book yet. But if I do any more fun research on it, I promise to keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you'd like to see more cool pictures of my zoo experience, click here.