Interview with a Zookeeper – Elle’s Topic Choice

Having an interest in the development of zoological collections, I would like to use this opportunity to interview a retired, or near retiring zookeeper. My undergraduate research focused on the nineteenth century so it would be interesting to learn more about twentieth century developments, especially from the perspective of someone who has worked, ideally for a long time, in a zoological organisation. I would like to combine both the life story and thematic approaches in order to understand what led the individual to pursue zoo keeping as a career and to understand their responses to changes in the profession.

Some example questions might be:

  • What led them to this profession? What influence did childhood visits have?
  • What role did a passion for wildlife play? Did money or career aspiration affect their choices?
  • What changes in procedures have they witnessed?
  • What changes in public attitude do they feel have occurred?
  • Do they have an opinion about the effects of the media? E.g. TV (progression from Animal Magic and Anthropomorphism to the likes of Animal Park, Animal Maternity, The Zoo etc.), Twitter, Facebook etc.

With people like Damien Aspinall calling for zoos to be systematically closed over the next 20-30 years, in favour of the conservation and protection of wild animals in their natural habitats, I wonder how long it will be before zoos as we understand them, cease to exist and the role of zookeepers diminished. I hope by interviewing a zookeeper to add at least one of their voices to the historical record.

It’s a topic I have huge interest in, both academically and personally and so if I can find an interviewee, I’ll really enjoy doing this project. However at the moment I seem to be getting stonewalled and am struggling to find anyone from this profession who’s open to being interviewed.

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One Comment on “Interview with a Zookeeper – Elle’s Topic Choice”

  1. Graham Smith says:

    Elle: Jane H pointed out that you might like to look at Takashi Ito’s work: http://www.boydellandbrewer.com/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=14351 Note also the thesis may be available. See Ethos: http://ethos.bl.uk/Home.do for an index of PhDs including those that can be downloaded.


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