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August 20, 2022

Where Every Family Matters

Get To Know Some of the Zoo Keepers at Nashville Zoo

Nashville Zoo currently has 85 Zoo Keepers caring for 357 species and 2,901 specimen of animals. Let us introduce you to a few.

Keep On, Keepin' On…

It may take a village to run a Zoo, but it takes very special individuals to care for its furry, feathery and scaly inhabitants. 

“It's more than just cleaning poop. We all have college degrees and need to be well educated about these animals to provide proper care. We are part of a bigger picture as well. We all have the conservation of these animals in our minds and are trying to do something tangible to help. Whether it's field work, breeding and release, raising funds, or education, it is all part of our job.”

Stephanie White, Ambassador Animal Area Supervisor (far left)


"When I was a kid I wanted to be a veterinarian because it was the only animal job I knew of. As I got older I discovered there were many more jobs for someone that loves animals. I wanted to be a keeper because I like getting to work with the same animals and have a bond with them."

Stephanie Edling, Hospital Keeper


“Many people just think we play with animals all day. However, our job consists of long shifts and working on weekends and holidays. We all spend countless hours cleaning, making enrichment, preparing diets, maintaining exhibits and enclosures, and talking to the public. It's not a glamorous job, but we all work so hard to keep our animals safe, healthy, and happy.

Alison Day, Ambassador Animal Keeper


“While it may be a bit cliche, my role model growing up was Steve Irwin. Watching his show when I was younger inspired me to care about conservation. His passion and self-sacrifice to carry the standard for wildlife conservation changed the way I looked at the world."

Josh Wiseman, Outreach Specialist


"Zoo keeping found me by accident and I didn't know what I was getting into. I have a handful of keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo who I'm thankful for everyday. They convinced me that this is a much more fulfilling way to spend my life."

Lauren Lott, Contact Area Keeper


This is more of a lifestyle than a job. No one ever made it rich being a zoo keeper. We work on holidays, like Christmas, away from family. We work when it’s hot, cold and in extreme weather. When the roads are iced over the animals still need to be taken care of. As difficult as our days can be with healthy animals or sick animals, baby animals or aging animals, we love our job!”

-Sean Ployd, Avian Keeper


Every day is different! One day you could be examining a newborn baby giraffe, then doing x-rays on a hellbender, then taking blood from an anteater."

Sandy, Senior Veterinary Technician

"I love when I'm talking to people either on the path or during a show and I see the acceptance of some of the lesser loved creatures happening to guests."

Kelsey Smith, Ambassador Animal Keeper


"My favorite thing is the variety. As a hospital keeper I get to work with everything from toads to tigers and everything in between. On top of that, I also get to assist with the medical procedures going on with all of the animals, so that's even more variety. One day it might be a surgery on a snake, and the next day its getting to do exams and vaccines on all of the Kangaroos from Kangaroo Kickabout."

Melinda Kommavongsa, Hospital Keeper


Yes, Nashville Zoo is open!


Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week


3777 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211


September news and events

The Zoo's poupular Kangaroo Kickabout reopens for guests September 4

Halfternoons – Save 50% on admission every day after 1:00 pm.

Kroger Safari Fridays at Nashville Zoo – BOGO admission every Friday in September

Wild Wednesdays – Free rides on the Wild Animal Carousel all day on Wednesdays

'September Sips' at Nashville Zoo – September 25-26

Boo at the Zoo – October 15-30 (except Mondays)


Check out Nashville Zoo's reopening policies


About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing and Entertainment Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 3-year-old Ezra.