Touch, feel, and feed the animals at Queens zoo

Feeding animals, grooming them, getting to know them and looking out for their overall well-being – it’s all in a day’s work for Queens Zoo Keeper Aaron Springer.

Springer fell in love with the work while at a wildlife center in his home state of Louisiana. He began working at the Queens Zoo last September in their farm area.

The farm portion of the zoo has many different animals, including llamas, goats, sheep, Flemish giant rabbits, pigs, cows, ponies, chickens and a donkey, among others.

Part of Springer’s job involves answering the many questions from children visiting the zoo. On a warm Friday, while holding one of two Flemish giant rabbits the zoo has, children quickly noticed and rushed over to pet the rabbit and find out more about it.

Springer said that many times, since the children are from the city, they are seeing animals that they have not been exposed to before.

“It’s kind of neat to see the kids get so excited by the farm animals,” he said.

Because of being around the animals every day, Springer said it didn’t take him long to learn all of their names. He also said that each one has its own personality, and knowing that personality can help the keepers tell if anything is ever wrong with one of the animals.

    “It’s hard for me to pick a favorite,” Springer said of the animals. “I really like to work with all of them.”

Another component to Springer’s job is doing enrichment activities with the animals. For instance, a ball with grain inside is given to the goats so that as they kick it around food comes out. Another example is freezing fruit in a block of ice for the pigs to get at.

During Springer’s day he also works with Holiday, the donkey who has been at the zoo for about two and a half months. He explained that Holiday is still trying to get used to the zoo, so they take him on walks to help him adjust. Springer said that they are working on getting him to the point where he will be comfortable having some kids around him.

Aside from the general work he does with the animals, Springer said that his favorite part about his job is learning more about the ones he is working with, so he can do the best work possible for the animals.

“There’s always something that you can learn about your job,” said Springer, who has also started to learn about the other parts of the Queens Zoo.

The Queens Zoo will hold its signature spring event, Sheep Shearing Weekend, on Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

During the event, expert shearer Peter Sepe will shear the zoo’s sheep. The event will also include live wool-processing demonstrations, arts and crafts, and education stations.

The Queens Zoo is located at 53-51 111th Street. For more information, call 718-271-1500 or visit www.queenszoo.com.

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