The Zoo's Maintenance team has quite a job in front of them each day as they maintain all aspects of Zoo equipment, grounds and buildings. On any given day the maintenance staff is called on to be plumbers, carpenters, electricians, mechanics, welders, painters and general Mr./Ms. Fix-Its! Many Maintenance jobs are of critical importance to the Zoo, from maintaining the sophisticated life support systems of the animal areas to the all-important safety features both inside and outside of animal habitats. We appreciate our talented Maintenance team and the hard work they do!
Name: Tom Buckner
Title: Manager, Maintenance Services
Tenure at the OKC Zoo: 1.5 years
Residence: Yukon, Oklahoma
1. Why is your job important to you?
My job is important to me because I know that I am helping to keep the history of the OKC Zoo and to maintain a great educational and entertaining environment for the state of Oklahoma. Our part as maintenance may seem like a small contribution to some, but we understand the importance of keeping the Zoo up to date with every-day preservation as well as improvements and new developments.
2. What do you like about your job?
I think what I most enjoy about my job is the interaction with everyone - from the visitors to the animals. Even though visitors may not know what our job descriptions are, they know that the staff at the Zoo is friendly, helpful and working to make their experience even more enjoyable than their last visit.
3. What is your favorite Zoo memory?
This is a little embarrassing to admit, but my current favorite memory has to be when my wife and I went out to eat after work. I still had my "work" clothes on and had dropped some of my dinner on my shirt. We got a call to visit a friend in the hospital and I knew I didn't have time to go home and change my soiled shirt, so I went into the room with my head held high and started to give apologies for my shirt. While apologizing, I thought, "How can I turn this around so it's not my fault?" The next thing that came out of my mouth was "A seal spit on me." Instead of laughing, everyone thought my job was so cool that something like that could happen. My wife almost gave me away, but we so awe-struck at the responses that she held it together until we got in the car!
4. What do you like the most about your team?
I feel the Zoo has a very talented Maintenance staff. They all work very hard and in impossible conditions sometimes to complete the tasks at hand. They are a very special group and I thank them all for that. Mike H., Alex, Paul, Ryan, Marla, Rusty, Bennie, Mike W., Bobby, Tim and Gerald. They all had a big part in the completions of the new elephant habitat and the Zoozeum.
I live in Yukon, Oklahoma with my wife, Linda. We have a son, Tommy, who is 25 years old. I have worked at the Zoo since February of 2010. Before that I was Facility Maintenance Supervisor at a local hospital for the past 18 years. I have carried a journeyman electrical license since 1979.