As Ambassador for San Diego Zoo Global, Rick's job is to share information about the wonderful animals and plants of the Zoo and Safari Park with everyone he meets—in person, on TV, and on the Web. In fact, as Ambassador he even travels the world visiting many of the San Diego Zoo Global conservationThe wise use, care, and protection of natural resources, including plants and animals. projects. He was a senior keeperAn employee in a zoo who takes care of the animals. at the Zoo before becoming Ambassador. Rick has worked for the Zoo since the autumn of 2000. During that time, he has worked with so many animals that it's hard to pick just one favorite!
Each animalAny living thing that is not a plant. Most animals can move about freely. All use plants or other animals as food. All have sensory organs. that I encounter I enjoy working with for different reasons," Rick says. "My top 5 favorite speciesA group of individuals that have many of the same characteristics, and are different from all other animals in some important way. Hamsters and mice are two different species of rodent. are: binturong, fossa, ocelot, Amazon parrot, and tamandua. And skunks. And cheetahs, oh, and elephants, too (I can't really pick just 5). My favorite individual animalAny living thing that is not a plant. Most animals can move about freely. All use plants or other animals as food. All have sensory organs. was a binturong named Bandar. He was one that I developed a special relationship with over time. Kind of like a best friend. We did a lot of work together educating people about conservationThe wise use, care, and protection of natural resources, including plants and animals.."
The animals in Rick's care often keep him laughing.
"I once worked with a red panda who loved to follow me around when I cleaned his enclosureA space in a zoo where animals live and are cared for.," Rick recalls. "One time while I was cleaning, I turned around quickly (not knowing he was right behind me) and surprised us both. I jumped a little and he stood up on his hind legs and put his front paws up. It made me laugh because it looked like he was actually trying to surprise me and if he could talk, I am sure he would have said 'Got ya!'"
Working with animals can be messy, too.
"I was doing a live radio interview once, and as soon as the interview started, the Angolan python that I was holding went to the bathroom right in my lap. And it was A LOT!" Rick says.
Follow Zookeeper Rick on Social Media: