Work in the Zoo

Author: My first entry into the realm of the wild failed. Before the circle of young naturalists at the Moscow Zoo had to go through the city, so I went to the aircraft modeling circle. Feeders tits, made from the milk package, occupied a much less attractive sparrows. And with great difficulty vyproshennaya parents dog - collie - at the first exit to the country proved to be not a wolf Winnipeg and durakovatym citizen. The dog fell off a cliff into the river and tried to fight the cow and ends lost in the woods, once we were in it. Disappointed with the dog, I forgot his dream of becoming a zoologist. But last fall when I was offered to work the keeper (working for the care of animals) in the department of elephants and hippos, I agreed immediately - after all it is necessary to check whether I was right to choose a profession, becoming a journalist.

It is estimated that at the beginning of the last century in South and Southeast Asia, there were about 1 million elephants. Today eksperttsy Fund EleAid in this region account for about 52 thousand. Wild elephants and 15 thousand. Tamed. More about 1,000 animals live in zoos around the world. The sharp decline in the population due to the population explosion in the region, because of which is steadily decreasing forest area. In India, people in collisions with wild giant mammals die each year about 300 people.

Kharkiv Zoo

It was opened in 1896 in the city center near the University. During World War II the zoo pavilions have been hit hard, and almost all the animals were killed - the occupation survived only 4 bears, wolves and monkeys 5 (and the three rhesus monkeys locals two years hid in the house next door). Now in the zoo contains 388 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, including 103 rare and protected - for example, the Amur tiger, Amur leopard and Asian elephant. For comparison, in the Berlin Zoo with the largest collection of the world's 1,500 species found in Moscow - 1131 views. The zoo - 22 hectares.


No, not that should smell a childhood dream. From the aroma of manure watery eyes. In the dimly lit room with a shabby five-meter ceilings, hot and humid. Elephant Tandy extends towards me and trunk noise draws air. Officer Yuri explains that elephants nose better than the dogs, and they breath define each other health and mood. Man for them, too, like an open book, and I'm not uncomfortable with the fact that Tandy now knows everything about me. Immediately reminded of safety training. I think, over tea in the office of the deputy director of I'm too serious attitude to information that elephants are extremely unpredictable and therefore close their aviary is necessary to be constantly on the alert. When they told me that they throw various objects, as well as their own feces, I even laughed.

In the trunk of the elephant 40 thousand. Muscles and tendons, by which it can perform complex movements with a jeweler's for a colossus accuracy. For example, to pick up from the floor the match. And Tandy with his "handler" can lift a weight of 250-300 kg. When she grabbed my hand trunk, then I get out I can not. On their own elephant I hardly let go - she had a little fun at the zoo, and reliable means to get the elephant to throw no new toy.

It turns out you can not tame the giant mammal to the end, we did it with a dog or a cow. Full control of the elephant can be obtained only by breaking it will brutal beatings - Asian elephants who entertain tourists and are used in the national economy, are trained in this way.

In zoos Proboscidea teach humanity - through "positive reinforcement" in the form of apples and bananas. But even experienced keepers do not go to the elephant in the paddock without special needs. And I thought I'd be scratching behind the ear nosed mop.

In Kharkiv zoo live two Asian Elephant - female and male Aung Tandy. Asian elephant African elephant against most of the autumn and spring, and they spend the winter in the indoor the elephant. It is now we are. Elongated enclosure area of ‚Äč‚Äčabout 200 square meters. m separated from the rest of the space lattice of the vertical metal beams, between which can pass people, but squeezes the head of an elephant. The same technology made partitions that divide the enclosure itself into three parts. Males and females are kept separately to hefty Aung crippled small compared to him Tandy (five versus three tonnes). However, they still are close by, in the neighboring paddock, and I behave peacefully, and sometimes quite gently probe each other's trunks through the bars. But I do not trust outward appearances elephant friendly - it seems to me that they try on as handier to strangle each other.


In the partition of the enclosure has a door through which we with Yura distilled Aoun and Tandy from one section to the other, to the day to remove manure in all three compartments. Motivate the elephant walk through the door is very easy. We must offer him in an empty section of the food - beet bucket, a bucket of carrots, half a bucket of apples, a bunch of hay. All in all our wards six meals a day, for which they knead 110 kg meal with its 100 liters of water. While the elephant pushes trunk a fruit and vegetables (food disappears in the mouth silently as if falling into a padded foam box), we with Yura lock the door behind him and into the empty bay shovels remove carefully trampled into concrete manure, sweep the floor, and then my it from the hose. It is not easy - I was sweating.

According to George Fry, an expert from the zoo in Zurich, every year in the European and North American elephant keeper die 3-4. At the same time employees, who work with elephants, do not save any experience or a good relationship with clients. For example, at the Moscow Zoo in 2007, the elephant killed 41-year-old Olga Gorelovsky, which successfully worked with her for over 10 years (when the animal is driven into the transport cage, hit Gorelovsky elephant trunk).

Jure for such work are paid about 10 thousand. Rubles, if translated into Russian currency hryvnia. He is married and has a child, and by the standards of Kharkov is a very small salary. But Jura could not clearly explain why, six years ago, ending the biology department of Kharkov University, took a job in the elephant was, and did not, for example, a teacher. Jura says that he was in the zoo accident. I do not believe him - in the few hours that we work together, I learned from him about the elephants more than in my entire life. "Trunk - it is not really his nose, and fused with the nose upper lip"; "Elephants - pica, that is, they eat the ground to clear the gastrointestinal tract"; "Tusks - it's not the canines and incisors," "Due to the large clearance between the walls of the stomach elephant learns from food only 60% of the nutrients." The flow of this information can neither remember nor stop, nor burn - in one hand I have a shovel in the other - a broom. The head swells, nerves on edge when sweep near the lattice, it is necessary to keep in view Aoun - giant moves almost silently. To do this, in the soles of elephants have pads that are filled with a jelly-like substance. God, how did I get here ?! DEPARTMENT elephants and hippopotamuses

Aung was born on 9 November 1997 in Emmenskom Zoo (Netherlands). This is the first elephant, who was born in Europe as a result of natural communication of elephants in a herd, with no human intervention guide. In Kharkiv came in April 2002. Aoun have no tusks. For centuries the killing of animals for ivory, a man held a selection, which resulted in the first place and allowed offspring survive without elephants overgrown front incisors.

Tandy was born on 19 June 1998 in Odessa Zoo. It was moved to Kharkov in October 2000. In summer, the elephant became pregnant by Aoun. Progeny must be born after 22 months - in the spring of 2013.

Stepanida was born in 1992. In the last 30 years, thanks to the fall of 2011 deceased male Semen Kharkov zoo was the main supplier of hippos in the entire post-Soviet space. Stepanida - the youngest daughter of seeds.

Lucy was born in 2007. She was brought to Kharkiv from the Israeli safari park in Ramat Gan in 2010.

WINTER in cells

Business Day at the Zoo begins at 9 am and ends at 5 pm. No changes in the list of duties for the night did not happen. We sort out a couple of buckets of vegetables (elephants, like people, punk better not have), the most delicious - a loaf of bread, beets and bananas - Jura lays out in different corners of the empty pen that Aung could entertain themselves looking for food, and then we distill elephant breakfast. The daily diet Aoun Tandy waiting for their turn, we remove in the free cage. According to the structure of the gastrointestinal tract elephant is like a horse, so he and manure smells like a horse, but the smell is much stronger. I already smelled not only clothes, but also the hotel room in which it is hung at night. I wonder what he would say the maid when it get out?

Manure like a little - not to say that we are drowning in it knee. But every day you need to take out the elephant 120-liter garbage can with the waste of life on the site of the service yard, where there is a common dunghill.

Editor Artem Betev removes manure

At lunch Jura decided to arrange for me a tour of the office facilities of other pavilions zoo. First we went to our next of kin. On the second floor of the "House of the primates' lives is the only zoo apes - chimpanzees Nick. It's so rare animal that her guard against drafts more carefully than the rest of the collection of primates. Nick spends the winter in the cage (with vines of fire hoses and old tires), which is in a special room with extra radiators and taped windows. Visitors are not allowed here. As Aung with Tandy, Nick's smart, unpredictable and strong - female chimpanzee is able to pull the handle with one hand dynamometer with a force of 200 kg. So I look at Nick afar, Nick, in turn, poses faces me. I think she's up to something. Photographer Kirill seems that it poses, and it begins to flash rapidly blaze. A few seconds later it turns out that I was right - Nick was aiming. Toss through the bars - and Cyril, swearing, clean the lens is taken from a banana peel. With strangers chimpanzees conversation short. Furthermore, there is such a high level of intelligence in the aviary boring. Requirement manger puzzle and television, in which Nick and the head of department Tatiana chimpanzee watching programs about animals. Not very gay life.

Next stop - the department predators. For open-air cages in which are exhibited lions, leopards, tiger and jaguar, is a two-storey building with a complex system of corridors and cells. There's a cat asleep, heated, treated and have a rest from the human attention. After a well-lit clean rooms Nicky think you got into the cellars of the medieval Inquisition. All so dramatically by shit stinks, but then a mixed range of smells of urine and ammonia aroma notes of rotting meat. Dim lights in the aisles heap gnawed bones thick as my arm, on the floor of the lattice, because of which at you from the bottom stares Amur tiger. We peek through a small barred window for a family of lions in the dark, like a prison cell room. Lioness lying, and a lion, as a revolutionary in the dungeons, paces the floor against the far wall. His movements are mesmerizing, and here I was shouting: "What are you, blind ?!" pushes away from the window Kirill. Lost in thought, I did not notice that the room from somewhere close to the side of the window came another lioness. Somewhere behind the wall is heard bloodcurdling roar of another deadly predator, and I understand that everyone - I have to go back to the elephant to his native Awn and Tandy.


In addition to working in the elephant my duties included the possible assistance begemotnika employee. Two Begemotiha Stepanida and Lucy winter in the indoor swimming pool pavilion with a depth of 3 m. As it turns out, contain hippos in captivity is not much more complicated than the fish. The problem is easily solved with manure - in the pool 2 times a week, changing the water. To eat, Begemotiha climb the stone stairs in a small enclosure. Food is the same as that of the elephant - vegetables, fruits, grains and hay.


The two employees working the elephant - Jura and his chief Oleg. To feed the elephant and clean the manure in the enclosures should be every day, so "slonologov" schedule is - a rest on Friday and Saturday, the second - on Sunday and Monday. Today the Jura output, so in the morning we met the elephant chief. Oleg addresses with a broom and a shovel is not worse than the Jura, and in addition, he is the most experienced employee who can, if necessary, go into the paddock with the giant mammals. Firstly, the elephant in Kharkov, he has been working for 16 years, and secondly, he learned not in one of the world's top two schools for elephants keepers - at the Vienna Zoo (the second school in Hamburg). The program today is diverse.

But first, feeding and manure - it is a mandatory item of the program. (It seems to me that to get done during the working day has something worthwhile unrealistic. However, it turns out that Oleg Yura parallel time to do research. They are now preparing to publish the results of 10 years of research, what and how best to feed in captivity Young elephants.)

Apparently, over the previous two days, I greatly improved my karma zoologist - when I wash the floor, Tandy suddenly reaches toward me trunk. Everything is clear - it is necessary to pour water from one hose to the other. The next five minutes, I keep the rubber intestine elephant catching the plane and gaining from it in the trunk of 6-8 liters of water (capacity I learned yesterday from the Jura), and then shoves it in his mouth and drinks. We have a mutual understanding, even though we, as they say, are very different. My childhood dream has come true - I made friends with this wild animal! Joyful moment spoils only that Cyril in camera right now the battery has, and he went into the back room of a charged.

Language commands, which give the elephants to the prevailing tradition in the world's zoos German: zuruck - back, geh - go, steh - simple, wende - turn around, von Tuer - door, Fuss - Give leg, andere - another. Oleg holds first training for Aoun. Standing behind a partition, he commands, and the male, whose keeper could fit a full-length under his arm obediently moves back backwards, turns sideways, in turn, raises the hind legs. Oleg throws him drying and apples. Such exercises not only train an elephant, but also relieve mental stress caused by enforced idleness in captivity. In the wild elephants spend most of their lives in search of food - sleep they need only 4 hours, and in a cell the size of a volleyball court Tandy and Aung leisure meal time often just stand in a corner or Teasing trunk chained to the bars tire.

Also unpredictable temperament, which have both male and female elephants can be so-called "musts" (translated from Urdu "intoxication"). In a period that can last from a week to several months, males at about 60 times increased testosterone levels in the blood, they become aggressive and totally unmanageable. By the end of the puzzle "musts" scientists have not figured out, though, and suggest that this phenomenon has something to do with reproduction.

The next issue of the program - pedicure for Tandy. In captivity, a large amount of protein in the diet the skin on the soles of the elephant grows, thickens, and, if not removed, begins to crack. At this time, Oleg enters the cell. At the command of the elephant leg raises, and the keeper with a special knife cuts the soles of the dead skin. Today Oleg will treat one foot, not to test the patience of Tandy. Then he invites me to go to the cage and take a picture with his ward. The final shot - with a broom in the background surround backside. Tandy looks askance at me, brown eyes, I looked at her. Oleg elephant soothing, stroking his side. I somehow cope with the excitement itself. As a child, I could not imagine that every day gets a zoologist elephant dose of adrenaline. I do not want to work with rare, giant, clever or remarkable in any way other animals, although I understand that somebody has to do it. I kind of work is not on the shoulder.



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