Through the eyes of the keepers (blog 1)

28 July 2019
Sandra Kuijmans

Animal keepers are mysterious folk. You don’t see them much, they don’t say much and many visitors wonder what it is they do all day long. This blog gives a little insight in Stichting Leeuw, through the eyes of the keepers!
First, let us introduce ourselves. The Stichting Leeuw keepers team has five people. Every day there are two keepers at work, and sometimes even three. I always say: “To each his own talent”. That works for us too. We all have our preferences and special skills. Together, we can do almost anything! That’s what makes us a strong team!

This is us:

Daphne

Sandra

Jurjen

Patrick

Saskia

So, we can get almost anything done. Almost anything, because the fact is that we work with animals. And our animals determine the show. Lions, tigers, leopards and cougars; animals to be reckoned with! They are and will always be wild, even those from circuses or the bottle-fed ones. We can’t put them on a lead. We do have some tricks at hand, but in the end it’s just the keepers tough luck if the animals decide to do different than want we wanted! This often results in changes of plans and very funny moments.

Last week it was warm. Actually, it was hot. Even here in Anna Paulowna in Holland, it was hot. Some animals can manage in the heat, but some, yes, even the lions and the Bengal tigers, suffered. We cancelled our hunting sessions for a couple of days. Exertion can be a danger to the health in these temperatures. For this reason lions hunt at night and twilight, when it is much cooler than in the middle of the day! Some of our animals rest in the shade, some lie in the ponds and many just want to stay inside, where it is about 10 degrees cooler than outside. The park has very few visitors, because most people think twice before the go to a zoo when it’s 38 degrees Celsius. At Stichting Leeuw it is serenely quiet, but the daily chores still need to be done.

Tigress Cita naps on the rocks in the great hall, under the sprinklers. Lion Simba, who is currently still in quarantine, is not troubled by the heat. He is the only one who has air-conditioning. After the daily cleaning of the inside enclosures, we feed the animals early. After feeding we open the hatches to the outside enclosures, so that the animals can choose to be inside or outside.

Afrodite stretches out on the cool floor.

Front paw of Remy, who also prefers the inside.

We spend the rest of the day doing cooling jobs, work involving water and inside jobs. For instance, we just got cabinets to keep all our tools in, so they need to be filled. We have quite a lot of tools, because there’s always jobs to do. For most of those jobs we don’t have staff. We do them ourselves. We are animal keepers, but also handymen (okay, sometimes also handywomen).

What would you like to know, or see, behind the scenes at Stichting Leeuw?
Let us know in the comments on the facebook post, with a link to this blog!

And just maybe we’ll address your question in one of our next blogs!