Ever wondered what goes on Behind the Scenes at Dublin Zoo? We have!
We had a chat we Zookeeper Garth de Jong to find out more about his role at the Zoo, his interests and what he loves about his job...
What do you love most about your work?
It’s great working all day at something you're passionate about, and getting paid for it! The fact that you're dealing with visitors that are in good humour is also a bonus. The fact that we spend so much time outside makes us the about the most 'naturally' tanned people in Ireland.
What’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to you in work?
Too many to mention, but one that springs to mind is whenever I witness the miracle of a baby animal hatching or being born. That's the ultimate testimony to the level of care you are giving to the animals in your section.
Have you always been interested in this type of role/working in tourism?
I have always had a passion for animals, in particular, reptiles. Working with visitors was a bit daunting at first, but very soon it becomes gratifying to know that you are perhaps lighting a spark of interest in a child who may well become tomorrow's naturalist or zoologist.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Bruce Willis. He's always up for a bit of danger and adventure!
If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
One of our house cats at home, for sure. Probably the most spoilt animal in the world!!!!
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you in work?
Too many to remember! One that has happened a few times, is when I get strange looks from visitors (as if I've got three heads!) only to realize that when I was working in the Giant Prickly Stick Insect habitat, one jumped off its perch and onto my back and stayed with me for hours before someone pointed it out.
What cheers you up when you’re having a tough day in work?
To see visitors enjoying themselves is infectious. You can't help but smile!
When you were a child did you always dream of being a zookeeper/working in this type of role?
Much to my parents disgust, YES! They tried convincing me to get a 'real' job, but eventually they accepted that this was my passion and I'd make a success of it.
If you weren’t a zookeeper what would you be?
Well my average grades in school meant I couldn't become a vet, so I guess I would have become something equally adventurous and exciting. Perhaps a fireman, a game ranger or a fisherman!
Visit Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8
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