GINA ON THE JOB: Louisville Zookeeper - WDRB 41 Louisville News

GINA ON THE JOB: Louisville Zookeeper

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Visit Africa, Australia or South America with out ever leaving the Derby City. WDRB's Gina Glaros headed to the Louisville Zoo on this edition of Gina on the Job.

"We're going to head down to Glacier Run. We're going to let you prepare some diets for the pinniped pets, maybe a bear, might let you feed a sea lion or two or a bear, you'll be doing some enrichment, preparing some enrichment for the animals. So, let's go," says Kyle Shepherd, spokesperson for the Louisville Zoo.

"We do diets first thing in the morning and pull the fish again for the next day," says Anna Stradley, seasonal keeper.

All of the animals in the back of the park get fish. They're on a strict schedule when it comes to portions.

"For all eight of our Pina Pets, we feed out 130 pounds of fish each and every day," Stradley said.

It takes a few hours to prepare and make it easy to eat. "Put it in the refrigerator until we're ready to feed it out."

Glaros then helped Jane Anne Franklin, Curator of Mammals and Animal Training Supervisor, feed Riva. They fed her with the fish that was prepared.

"Put a tail out between your fingers and take it to her, almost push it in her face," Franklin said. "And now she's getting really gentle. She gets you now."

We head outside to feed Kahula. The sea lions resemble dogs. "Their forte is being able to evade predators in the ocean and they're quite acrobatic and can flip and turn on a dime."

On to polar bears, workers are here 365 days of the year to keep the animals stimulated.

"I feel very fortunate and very blessed that I'm allowed into their world."

Polar bears are fed meatballs. They had to make them small enough to fit through the fence.

"She's just making sure you understand that's hers," Franklin said.

The last job is getting a stall ready. Gina was told to make the bears work for their snack, hiding blueberries.

Check and recheck and communicate with staff, before introducing the bear.

It was a full time job. "I think it was like a preordained destiny. I've been at the zoo for 27 years and I can't imagine doing anything else."

Employees said their love for the animals is why they're here. "They're ambassadors and teach folks about conservation and to represent parts of the world that a lot of us will never get to travel to," Franklin said. "It does something to your heart and when that happens, I've done my job."

What will Gina do next? Email her or reach out to her on Facebook or Twitter to make a "Gina on the Job" suggestion.

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