ZOO WEEK: Sunrise goes behind the scenes at Irvine Park Zoo

One of the birds at the Irvine Park Zoo. All of the raptors, the two owls and the hawk are missing wings and are rehab birds.

CHIPPEWA FALLS, WI ---- All week long, Sunrise is going wild! We're designating this week as zoo week to celebrate 106 years of the Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls. To kick off zoo week, Sunrise went with behind the scenes and talked with the zookeeper to find out what it takes to keep the animals happy and healthy.

Hyenas, tigers, and bears....oh my! But once you're behind the scenes, there's even more to see.

"This is Lily and she's got the cute little girl butt,” says Jennifer London, zookeeper.

It's never a boring day for zookeeper Jennifer London, when it comes to cleaning and caring for these furry friends, safety is key.

"I coax them in with a little bit of food. I'm never in the same cage with them, we're always separated and they're always shifted. Either they're inside and I'm outside or I'm outside and they're inside,” says London.

So while lily and lulu nuzzle inside, Jen works on their habitat

Jen says, "Clear their water, wash the windows, twice a week we do the pools."

With every animal the cleaning process is the same, all that's different is the animal's personality like the hyenas.

"They're like dogs, they get really excited, they're just like you know and they smile and they recognize me which is pretty cool. When I'm outside they'll pick me out of a crowd. Now it could be the shirt, but they do pick us out."

Even taking a liking to certain kids like 22 month old.

Paul Lehnertz of Eau Claire says, "Yeah you like seeing the hyenas don't you and the tigers. He really likes being so close to the animals and looking at them. He's an animal boy."

If you're an animal person, there's even more to see in the mammal building.

London says, "All of our raptors, the two owls and the hawk are missing wings. They're all rehab birds, all have come from rehabilitation centers. These are the Coatimundi's from South America. If you smell something skunky it's the fox."

But how do the animals get fed?

Jen referencing the bears, “For these guys I leave their kibble inside so if it rains it's not going to get soaked. It's dog food. The Capuchin's are just food give me food. I'll be there. This is for the tigers and these are 5 lb. tubes and they get 8 ½ pounds apiece,”

"I also freeze blood, this is like bloodsicles and they have some deer hooves for enrichment."

So next time you head to the Irvine Park Zoo to see your favorite animal, remember why they're happy and healthy

"Yeah they're nice girls."

The zoo is free and open from dawn until dusk.


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