ZOOKEEPER–The Movie–Pseudo-Review

I toured Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo during the making of Adam Sandler’s feature film Zookeeper.  I was really there to see two gorillas–Okpara and fugitive gorilla, Little Joe.  I had the privilege to care for them as a relief animal keeper when they were youngsters at another zoo. And did they do some growing!

Remember that we are keepers of the animals. We are not keepers of the zoo.  This distinction is of critical significance to some. At least it was to one of my former supervisors.  ‘Animal Keeper’ or ‘Zoo Keeper’ — the vocation does have a negative connotation in some countries and even in some circles in the lower 48. In Alaska we are treated like gods. Kidding…

My parents certainly thought zoo keeping was cool, but a few of their friends suffered from severe intellectual snobbery.  The truth is that many animal keepers have Master’s degrees and I know at least one with a Ph.D.  Several others are Ph.D. students or candidates. 

I personally found that it was easier to get into veterinary school than it was to acquire a position as a full-time animal keeper. And I respect the Ph.D. programs, but those too, were easier to get into than it was to find a keeper job.  You might not get rich keeping the kingdom, but you’ll love what you do.


Jordan Schaul and Jungle Jack Hanna (the world's most famous zoo keeper)

The Pseudo-Review:

The Franklin Park Zoo’s staff provided me with mixed reviews–not about the movie–but about the making of the movie.

I really had no idea what the premise of the film was until I saw the trailer posted on a friend’s facebook page.  And for a moment my soul started to leach out of my body.  As it left I recalled the words of one of those family friends. I won’t dignify them by repeating, but they almost became ambulatory polar bear enrichment.

Anyways… Kevin James plays the zookeeper and based on the trailer he does a fantastic job.   I think the guy is hilarious delivering packages or carnivore diet.

The girl he wants to marry is not impressed with his profession and I will leave it at that.  Animal keepers and aquarists do just fine meeting mates. 

The movie is pure fiction. I really can’t give anything away if I wanted to. I’ll watch the whole thing and I will take pride in being Zoo Keeper Emeritus.

Not all zoo keepers aspire to be the best of conversationalists, but they do get asked back to dinner parties because they have some of the best material on Earth. 

On Sunday I toured Senator Murkowski around our facility.  If a US Senator thinks what you do is cool enough to follow you around at work for a day than you must be doing alright. 

For more information about Zoo Keeping visit the American Association of Zoo Keeper’s website.

Check out the Zookeeper trailer (In theaters July 8th)



Meet the Author
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: jordan@jordanschaul.com http://www.facebook.com/jordan.schaul https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordanschaul/ www.jordanschaul.com www.bicoastalreputationmanagement.com