Niabi Zoo Moving Forward

The Niabi Zoo is looking to hire new year round animal handlers after five employees left in the past few weeks.

WQAD News 8's Elizabeth Wadas learned there is more to the job than some might think.

It's one thing to be animal lover... but it's another thing to be an animal handler.

The handlers constantly check humidity levels and know exactly what is behind a door before they open it.

Jessica Lench Porter specializes in the carnivores but today she is helping out in the reptile house.

"The biggest thing people don't realize is it's not just coming and picking up poop."

After half of the zoo's animal handlers left, the new Niabi Zoo Director Lee Jackson says it is a time to rebuild and move forward.

He said "it's not the typical kind of job.  What we're looking for are people with academic experience and practical experience."

It takes a lot more than a passion for animals to properly care for them.

Porter said, "We all have college degrees.  I have a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology and management."

To make up for the loss in numbers the community along with handlers from around the country are pitching in to help.

"Yes, its a bump in the road but it has also meant a lot to see everybody come together to help everyone out," said Porter.

But once staff navigates over those bumps, they look forward to bite down a future filled with fresh perspective.

The new zoo director says he is interviewing seven eligible candidates for the five positions this week.

He says that pool has some local candidates and some from all over the country.