Posted on 12/18/2019 at 03:47 PM by Blog Author
Forming positive working relationships is important in any workplace. As zookeepers, we have the challenge of not only forming positive relationships with human coworkers, but also the animals in our care. Strong bonds between both human and animal coworkers can serve to improve cooperation and productivity and to reduce stress for all involved.
Some animals can be easier to form relationships with than others. Personality plays a large role. Shy or sometimes aggressive animals require significantly more time and effort to form positive relationships with than animals that are more naturally curious and trusting. For example, Dexter the goat, with his easy-going and attention-seeking personality has been generally easier to form bonds with than some of our more shy goats. Cameo, the miniature zebu, on the other hand, has a history of occasionally trying to push keepers with her horns. Forming a positive relationship with this animal has taken considerably more time and forethought, as keepers have had to be careful to reinforce positive behaviors while avoiding reinforcing unwanted behaviors. Over time several of our keepers have managed to forge strong bonds with Cameo and in the process reduced her aggressive behaviors.
Maintaining healthy working relationships with human coworkers is just as important as forming bonds with the animals in our care. Zookeepers rely on clear communication and mutual trust on a daily basis to ensure proper animal care and safety. Small Mammals team likes to reinforce our bond with social interactions. For example, we often play card games during lunch and will sometimes get together outside of the work environment for recreational activities.