On The Job: Animal Keeper At Maymont

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — This week, the Good Morning Richmond crew is going where you live to try all sorts of different jobs.

Today, 8News anchor Morgan Dean and reporter Roxie Bustamante rolled up their sleeves and showed us just a glimpse of what it takes to be an animal keeper at Maymont.

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Showing them the ropes is Manager of Animal Training Anaka Nazareth who does daily training and habitat cleaning with Maymont’s two Black Vultures, Magnolia and Daffodil.

“Magnolia is actually one of the oldest residents that we have here at Maymont,” Nazareth said, “so he is a great testament to the great care that we give our animals here.”

Before GMR crews walked into the Vultures’ enclosure, Nazareth explained some of the bird’s unique habits and adaptations that might seem unusual to people.

“One of the most interesting parts about Vultures is the way that we think of them is very dirty, but for them, it actually keeps them clean,” Nazareth said, “so you might notice that their legs are kind of white — that’s actually because Vultures actually poop on their legs and this is for multiple reasons.”

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“If you know anything about vultures, they do eat carrions, so they’re walking around in dead gross things all the time. In order to keep themselves healthy, they actually poop on their legs to actually get off all that bacteria and kill everything on there,” Nazareth added. “Something that we think is very gross and dirty for them is a really great adaptation and it also can help keep them very cool.”

Nazareth said the Black Vultures also projectile vomit when they feel threatened or nervous.

After the fair warning, Nazareth took the GMR crew through the daily route of habitat cleaning, including cleaning the enclosure, changing the water, and saving the feathers for enrichment purposes.

Then, it was feeding time.

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“What we have is the commercially approved bird diet that we feed the birds every day, so it’s actually just ground up meat and other nutrients that they need — that’s the complete diet that they get every day,” she said.

The Black Vultures also train and are weighed every day during their feeding time.

“Everyday we obviously want to make sure that they are healthy, so the first thing that we’re doing is looking at them. Are these animals looking bright and alert? Feeding is a way of communication,” Nazareth said.

From November 1 to 6 and November 8, Maymont will host its ‘One Wild Campaign’ at the Nature Center where you can cast your ballot for your favorite Maymont animal.

For more information on Maymont, events, and adopt an animal program CLICK HERE.

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