Zookeeper for the day at Brookgreen Gardens

Have you ever wondered what it would like to zookeeper? As a rescue pet mom and a farmer, I have the joy of working with animals daily.  I can only imagine how fun it would be to have a full-time career working with a zoo full of animals big and small, from all types of ecosystems around the globe.

Thanks to the awesome folks at Brookgreen Gardens Lowcountry Zoo in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina I spent the day with a zookeeper to learn more about their amazing Zookeeper For The Day program.  After hanging out with zookeeper Jared Wagner, I’m convinced of two things:

  • being a zookeeper is a pretty intense, yet highly rewarding job
  • working for an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited wildlife refuge is one of the coolest jobs on the planet!

Zookeeper for the day at Brookgreen Gardens

Zookeeper For The Day details:

The Zookeeper For The Day program occurs on the 3rd Wednesday of the month.  Guests (age 12 and older) get an insider view of working in a zoo. They spend the day helping zookeepers with their daily routine of feeding, cleaning, and animal care.  Cost of the program is currently $150 (requires reservation) and well worth it to experience this one-of-a-kind hands-on program.

Located just south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Low Country Zoo currently has 5 zookeepers.  There’s also other zoo professionals, including a beekeeper, that help maintain the excellence of this amazing habitat.

Zookeeper for the day at Brookgreen Gardens
Zookeeper Jared Wagner

As an AZA accredited facility, all of the animals in the Lowcountry Zoo were either bred and raised in captivity. Many have sustained a major disability due to injury.  These animals could not survive in the wild.  At the Lowcountry Zoo animals live comfortably in their native habitats.

Visitors have the chance to view these extraordinary animals in the wild. In the Zookeeper For The Day program, you have the chance to have a more up close and personal encounter. All while learning what it takes to be a zookeeper.

Zookeeper for the day at Brookgreen Gardens

Zookeeper For The Day insights:

Following around Zookeeper Wagner, it’s easy to be in awe of how much time, attention and expertise he spends in maintaining the Lowcountry Zoo animals and grounds.  It’s also easy to see how personally invested the zookeepers are in their job.  Taking care of the animals isn’t just a job for Wagner, he knows each one by name.  He can tell you all of their likes, dislikes, quirks and just what it takes to rehabilitate and ensure each member of the zoo family has a comfortable, safe home.

Along our journey we got fascinating insights into each animal’s history, preferences, requirements and feeding schedules.   We also learned a great deal about their habitats. Along with the measures taken to keep the zoo as close to resembling the perfect native habitat for each species.  I won’t give any of the secrets away as it’s a mesmerizing part of the experience.  Suffice to say I truly have a whole new understanding of the importance of maintaining balance in our ecosystem.

Zookeeper for the day at Brookgreen Gardens

Activities at the Zoo:

In addition to caring for the animals, Lowcountry Zookeepers also help to educate the public. They host various classes like “Meet the Animals”. Theres’ also daily walking tours through the zoo during snack time for the animals. Seasonal activities include a Whispering Wings Butterfly Experience.

If you are a nature or animal lover seeking a special experience to step inside the role of zookeeper, this is the program you must sign up for!  It’s also a terrific program for multi-generational travel. How awesome would that be to spend the day with your grandchild? It will to open up a new world of possibilities for their future! Who knows it may be what inspires them to pursue a career working with animal care.

I may never have the chance to have a career as a zookeeper. However, it’s such a treasure to have had the opportunity to learn hands-on. Amazing to experience a day is like in this fascinating profession!

Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an the author of "Getting Laid" and "Getting Baked". A sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky, when she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s making tea and writing about country living and artisan culture.
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