Zookeepers reveal the most shocking secrets about their job


Zookeepers from all over the world have revealed the most bizarre and disturbing secrets about their zoos, from the animals that must be killed on sight in the event of an escape to the bodily fluids they throw at visitors. 

Reddit user u/gomi-panda started the fascinating thread by asking: ‘Zookeepers of Reddit, what’s the low-down, dirty, inside scoop on zoos?’ Thousands of people have responded to the question with surprising revelations. 

Many of the comments were about the most dangerous animals in the zoo, with employees stressing that it’s not the ones most people would think. 

Coming clean: Zookeepers have revealed most bizarre and disturbing secrets about their zoos in a popular new Reddit thread (stock image) 

Tell it all: Reddit user u/gomi-panda started the fascinating thread by asking zookeepers to give 'the low-down, dirty, inside scoop on zoos'

Tell it all: Reddit user u/gomi-panda started the fascinating thread by asking zookeepers to give ‘the low-down, dirty, inside scoop on zoos’

‘The most dangerous and feared animal in case of an escape is not, as you may think, lions, tigers, or other large carnivores. It’s the chimps,’ one person stressed. ‘Those things will rip your arm off and beat you to death with the bloody end as soon as they look at you.’

Someone else advised users to ‘ask someone which animals are “kill on sight” in an escape’ during their next visit to the zoo. 

‘The answers will surprise you,’ the zoo expert insisted. ‘Lions and tigers are typically on the “tranq and capture” list, but a jaguar the size of a golden retriever is “KoS.” The zoo I was with, the two jags were the only animals on site that were on the shoot-to-kill list. Even the silverback was on the tranq-first list.’

A few people detailed the safety procedures their zoos have in place in the event that a carnivorous animal escapes.  

‘I used to volunteer weekly at a large zoo, and at one point, management started doing monthly dangerous animal escape drills. Someone would run around in a lion onesie and we’d have to react as if one of the large animals had escaped,’ the person recalled. 

‘It was hilarious, but one of the funniest things I was taught was that if an incident did occur, you have to tell the nearby guests to get inside only once. If, after that, they refuse to follow you indoors (the protocol was to hole up in the large activity center buildings), you’re to leave them there, go inside yourself, and lock the doors. 

‘It makes sense because people can be very stupid and you don’t want to risk everyone’s lives because of one Karen, but it amused me to no end that the protocol was to just let them get mauled.’ 

Watch out: Many of the comments were about the most dangerous animals in the zoo, with one person saying the chimps are more fearsome than the lions and tigers

Watch out: Many of the comments were about the most dangerous animals in the zoo, with one person saying the chimps are more fearsome than the lions and tigers

Another person noted that the procedures aren’t always followed. 

‘If any animal escapes before the zoo opens to the public, the zoo is supposed to shut down completely for the day. Often, though, smaller zoos can’t afford to lose a day open to the public, so if some specific types of animals escape (such as reptiles or small animals), they will just stay open while having keepers look for the animal,’ the Reddit user explained. 

‘I remember hearing from coworkers that they listened to our boss and opened even though a small but somewhat venomous snake was on the loose.’ 

And in case people need a reminder, one zoo employee pointed out the number of injuries a person can get from various animals, including the ones that seem tame.    

‘I’ve been kicked in the chest by a kangaroo, almost sexually assaulted by an emu, attacked by a wombat and a bat, bitten by a monitor lizard and a carpet python, had a rhino charge at me, and been scratched by a macaque,’ the zoo employee shared.  

‘My old boss has this bad** scar from a snow leopard attack, and this guy I work with now has his entire left forearm mangled from an orangutan attack.’

Others dished about the disgusting bodily fluids and excrement animals will gleefully throw at visitors, including monkeys who will toss semen. 

Candid: A few people detailed the procedures their zoos have in place in the event an animal escapes, while others dished about the animals' sexual proclivities

Candid: A few people detailed the procedures their zoos have in place in the event an animal escapes, while others dished about the animals’ sexual proclivities

‘Be careful walking by the open-air monkey enclosures, because poop isn’t the only thing they’ll fling at you,’ one person stressed. ‘It’s like that scene from Silence of the Lambs, when Clarice is going to see Hannibal Lecter…you know the scene I mean. Only much, much worse.’

Someone else shared: ‘Our lions will urinate on guests if they get too close, which is always funny to see. Not so funny to smell.’

A number of people also discussed the animals’ sexual proclivities, with one zoologist explaining how it’s some people’s jobs to masturbate the animals. 

‘Aquariums have captive breeding programs for some of the dolphins and whales, but they are too difficult to transport for mating,’ the person explained. 

‘So they have to use artificial insemination. Which requires semen samples from whales. Which means that it’s someone’s job to give handjobs to dolphins and whales in order to collect the sperm. It’s part of the animal’s training, and the whales will roll over and present their genitals on command.’

Someone else witnessed a large tortoise try to mate with a metal bucket. 

‘We had these 5-gallon buckets for cleaning the poop out of enclosures and other buckets for feeding them fresh grass we cut. The first day on the job I took both buckets into the pen and started by dumping out the grass. Then I went around to collect poop,’ the user recalled. 

‘I heard this awful loud grunting and something breaking. One of the 300 lb males tried to bang the bucket in front of visitors and flattened it. He would even follow me around just in case I might leave more innocent buckets unattended.’ 

Another person warned: ‘Monkeys will, in fact, try to have sex with a female human if there is an opportunity to. The more you know.’

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