Did you ever have that one pet that was the one? Your soulmate? Of course, we all have.
Well then, it is probably not hard to imagine the connections that zookeepers, staff and volunteers make with the animals in their charge. It may be surprising though the ones that capture our hearts the most.
Of course, lions are majestic, monkeys are fun and pandas look cuddly. But it’s not just the “charismatic” animals that tug on the heartstrings.
One of the Pueblo Zoo volunteers cares for tarantulas, beetles and hermit crabs with the affection and admiration more often reserved for a cuddly kitten. Another is bonded with BB the king snake and comes in several times a week to spend quality time with his buddy.
For Zack, our education animal keeper, it is Cricket -- the chicken. Yes, the chicken.
Since day one, Zack and Cricket bonded. Maybe it’s because they share a birthday. Or maybe it’s because chickens often have more personality than most give them credit for.
Cricket is no exception.
She is most content when riding around on Zack’s shoulder. She is wonderful with children during school programs allowing them to approach her and touch her.
Who would have thought, chickens are chock full of personality?
In the morning, Cricket knows she will get a cricket from the first person in and she gets so excited -- jumping up and down like a puppy after a treat. And oh, the pride when she lays an egg. She cackles and cackles until someone takes notice.
When Zack says “let’s go” she falls right in line and follows his lead. In turn, there ’s the sparkle in Zack’s eye, when he talks about Cricket. It’s obvious that she is his favorite.
Of course, these connections can create heartache when hard decisions need to be made. Animal care staff and others that are with the zoo animals day in and day out are deeply affected when health issues hit. Or when an animal leaves for another home. Now that, is a bad day at the office.
However, Bandit, my Amazon parrot friend that is cooing in my ear as I write this wants me to remind you that the rewards are all worth it.