Keeper Q & A
Name: Shelley Beene
Title: Animal Area Technician, Swing
Tenure: 8 years
Residence: Oklahoma City
Keeper Q & A
1. What does being a “Swing Keeper” mean?
Swing Keeping is the best job ever! Essentially it means I work on a daily rotation through our Zoo’s five mammal areas based on staffing and the needs of those individual areas. These areas include: Giraffe, Antelope, Great EscApe, Cat Forest and Lion Overlook, as well as Pachyderm. I also occasionally cover our Isolation/Quarantine area.
2. What do you love the most about your job?
The diversity! In my tenure as a Swing Keeper, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with over 170 species of animals! It’s incredible to come to work every day and literally experience or learn something you most likely did not experience or know the day before. On top of that, I absolutely enjoy working alongside so many wonderful, dedicated professionals who share the same passion as I do… day after day after day!
3. When did you know you wanted to be a Zoo keeper?
When I was 8 years old I spent the summer in California with my awesome Aunt Diana. We must have gone from one end of the state to the other visiting every zoo and marine park along the way. It was so fantastic! So I guess you could say I had a defining “summer” rather than a defining “moment”.
4. What are some of the most interesting animals you get to work with?
There are so many! If I had to choose, based on the impact they have had in my life, I would have to say the Great Apes and the Black Rhinoceros. The apes because of the deep humbling effect they have had on me since day one and still do today, and the rhinos for teaching me how very closed minded it is to stereotype anything in life, including animals.
5. What is your favorite Zoo memory from when you were young?
I remember so many fun things about our zoo trips from when I was young, but I think my favorite memory was the anticipation of the opening of Aquaticus. It was such a big deal to bring the dolphins and sea lions to Oklahoma City and you better believe I was here on the big day!
I was born in Oklahoma City and have lived in the great state of Oklahoma all my life! During my college years at The University of Central Oklahoma, I became a volunteer in our Marine Mammal Department here at the Zoo, while also working as a Veterinary Technician at a small animal practice. After 3 years of volunteering, I became a full time keeper working in the Giraffe Area and less than a year later, I became a Swing Keeper, which was my heart’s desire!