Summer is in full swing at the Louisville Zoo. The orangutans are playing, the owls are hooting and Louisville Zoo keepers are sharing stories about your favorite animals, all over the Zoo!
Watching animals in their habitats is fascinating. Now you can personalize your Zoo experience with animal and keeper presentations — sometimes with spectacular wildlife so near you can almost touch it! You get to hear what goes on behind the scenes and learn even more about what it takes to care for animals at your Zoo.
With up to 21 animal presentations scheduled throughout the day, there are a wide variety of settings for you to discover more about Zoo animals — from the playful sea lions at Glacier Run to the wonderful creepy crawlies in our HerpAquarium. And while getting up close and personal with some of our snakes and spiders might sound a little scary, it’s also an unforgettable experience. “One of the most interesting aspects of HerpAquarium Animal Presentations is our guests’ reactions to what we do,” said HerpAquarium Keeper Will Bird. “Make no mistake; people scream the loudest down here. They jump and hoot and howl, sometimes in fear and other times in awe. They’re disturbed by things like vampire bats drinking blood — but they can’t look away and they often come back again. It’s what they remember best and what leaves the most lasting impression.”
“Animal presentations are an extremely important part of the Zoo’s mission,” said Steve Taylor, Assistant Director of Conservation, Education and Collections. “Guests are able to connect with keepers and the animals. They hear that Jahari the pygmy hippo is 11 months old, he likes to sleep in the water with his mom and play with the water hose. They also hear about the important conservation issues that affect animals, habitats and people around the world. Keepers can share specific stories about animal behaviors and enrichment with guests and answer questions — or they might demonstrate training activities to larger groups, particularly at Glacier Run. There are a wide range of scenarios that are built around the animals, the exhibits and guest interest.”
“A lot of the enrichment, husbandry, or preventative health care animal training that we do happens behind the scenes,” said Taylor.
“At these presentations, we can bring this training to the forefront, show guests some of these techniques and expand on how they allow us to take better care of the animals in our collection. It’s exciting to observe and full of surprises.”
You might see our elusive maned wolf come close and demonstrate trust in Keeper Angela Johnson to receive enrichment items. You might see elephant Mikki as she follows through specific behaviors with Keeper Mark Stocker — behaviors that implemented later will make preventative health procedures easier to perform. Feel assured that the Zoo has strict safety procedures for keepers and guests who participate in animal encounters.
You’ll hear about why polar bear Qannik stands on her hind legs or orangutan Teak holds up his hand for keeper staff — all while learning about what you can do to support conservation efforts taking place here and around the world.
Come have a riveting experience — or several! Be sure to check our animal presentation schedule updated daily near the main plaza map. You can also view the schedule online at louisvillezoo.org/plan/schedule as you plan your day or make your way around the Zoo. Please keep in mind that there are times when animals and keepers are not able to avoid schedule conflicts, but we make every attempt to advise you in advance via this new online schedule.