Zookeeper of the Week 3/22: Zookeeper Janet

This week, we get to meet Zookeeper Janet! Aside being from Nebraska, she has also been a Zookeeper in real life! She’s taken our virtual game and has lived the reality.  Zookeeper Janet has been face to face with gorillas, rhinos, and every other animal imaginable. Be sure to read on to discover more about Zookeeper Janet and listen to a few hand-selected stories from her treasure trove of experience. Just look at how adorable this photo is!


1. Where are you from?
I was born in Fremont NE, about 40 miles from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. I have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology. Always wanted to work at the zoo.

2. How long have you been playing Zoo World?
I’ve been playing just less than a year. I started playing it just because it was a zoo. One of my favorite places in the world. I find I arrange my islands according to Henry Doorly’s crews and locations…. lol.

3. What’s your favorite part of Zoo World?
The new animals that appear… especially the animals that I took care of. But it’s very disappointing when the graphics are not even close to the real animals and I could name off the top of my head some of the best animals that would fit in ZW that are not in it. I wish I could talk to some of the idea people at ZW and I could give them a long list of appealing animals for ZW.

4. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
I can’t say what I would want to be but I can name the animals I enjoyed working with the most.. and that would be the lowland gorilla and the lemurs.

5. What’s your favorite animal-related memory? (a trip to a zoo? a favorite pet?)
I have multiple favorite memories so I’ll try to make them brief:

a. I was in a small display with a single ring-tailed lemur named Nellie. I had just had a perm the day before and I was doing the daily cleaning in with Nellie and I was crouching down and I felt something in my hair. I turned around slowly and Nellie was investigating the scent of my hair. Then I had to stand up to clean the windows and she came around the small tree in front of me, stood on a branch with her back legs, leaned forward putting her front paws on my chest and buried her head in my hair. Lemurs are one of my favorite animals. Brown lemurs are sweet also.

b. I worked with the great apes, smaller primates, California Sea Lions, White Rhino, African Elephants. We had all the thinking animals. My favorite great ape is the Lowland Gorilla. There was Casey, the large silverback, but I worked with Murphy, his son. He was a brownback, verging on being a silverback but still loved to play. He was about 350 lbs at the time. He would put his back against the bars and peek over his shoulder at me. That was his cue he wanted to be tickled. I don’t know if people know this but gorillas can laugh and chuckle. The gorilla I am holding in the picture I have included is now a silverback but he was hand-raised so was like a child.

c. Did you know White Rhino have soft skin behind their ears and loved to be scratched there?

d. I cringe every time I see a gaur in ZW as they are one of my least favorite animals I’ve ever worked with.

e. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life to work at the zoo. I have so many, many more stories. Some wonderful, some not so wonderful, some hilarious, some heartbreaking.

6. What are you passionate about?
[The prevention of ] Cruelty to animals. Exotic, domestic, household. It doesn’t matter. This includes habitat destruction without a thought of how the ecosystem will be effected. I have seen so much abandonment of animals and I despise people who look at animals as disposable when they get tired of them. I think I have an invisible sign at my home that says “All Strays Welcome Here” or the animals pass it around that a softie lives here.

7. What’s your favorite quote, movie, and book?
Quote: “When I have a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” by Erasmus
Books: Impossible to narrow it down to specifics. I have a small library with multiple genres. I have a large collection of animal books, including books by Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and other eminent biologists/zoologists.
Movies: Gorillas in the Misty, Lord of the Rings, Gettysburg (I’m a history buff too)

I have included a picture of myself with a young gorilla I worked with, Motuba. He was the largest gorilla ever taken by Jim Fowler to the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Like I said, I have a million stories. Sorry I couldn’t narrow it down a bit more.


Thank you for sharing with us a piece of your life, Zookeeper Janet. Your experience as a Zookeeper is not only fascinating, but educational as well. Our Zoo World community is lucky to have you share all of your knowledge, stories and hands-on observation with us. I hope your passion for animals never fade and Zoo World will always allow you to be a Zookeeper. Please feel free to share even more stories with us! I know I’m waiting with open ears.

If you’d like to be a future Zookeeper of the Week, please click here to sign up.

13 responses to “Zookeeper of the Week 3/22: Zookeeper Janet

  1. bonnie rutherford

    hi janet

  2. hello!

  3. LeVelle Calbat

    Enjoyed your story. How exciting to be a Zookeeper in real life!

  4. Janet Meade Cooper

    Wow, how odd to see a ‘zookeeper Janet’ then read she was from Nebraska -I thought –wait, I’m not from Nebraska!? 🙂 Fun to see other ‘real’ zookeepers who are playing —my zookeeper friends make lots of wry remarks on my FB when I make ZW related postings – isn’t it nice to be able to put animals where WE want them and not where the master plan says they have to go?

  5. would love to see some screen caps of your islands.

  6. Loved hearing your stories and experiences with zoo life. It must be very rewarding to work in a field your so passionate about! Can’t wait to hear more from ya! Hope your a zoomate so I can visit you zoo 🙂

  7. Hi Janet, Is that Bambio that you are holding in the photo? you are so lucky! I just love every single one of the gorilla’s at the Henry doorly zoo! My favorite is Timmy! I know them all by face!!! They are all gorgeous!!!!

  8. Janet Walker-Games

    @Abbottcheryl – That is actually Tubby (Motuba). He is the son of Bridget, he is also the half-brother of Murphy (now deceased) and the first set of twins with the Columbus Zoo, Macambo and Masuba.

  9. OMG then that must have been a while ago he is huge now. Isn’t he the grandchild of Colo? I visit them all the time, Mo (Mosuba) has a crush on me! I haven’t seen him for about 3 weeks since timmy Cracked the glass in the main exhibit! I can’t wait till they fix it! Do you still work at the HDZ? If so then I’m sure you have seen me there.

  10. Do you play zoo world and if so Please add me as a zoomate. i could help you alot and an on level 115. i like to share my animals and could help increase your zoos animals..Jo Anne Roberts

  11. Congratulations! Well done! Beautiful zoo! I would love to hear more of your stories and life with nature’s finest. I am so passionate about trying to save the habitat for the all creatures on this earth, alas, we must do what we can, as soon as we can! Over population and man’s needs will shrink their habitats and make their sustanence toxic(if it isn’t already).I would love to be a zoomate. I’m only at level 82 but am working hard. Again, Congrats!!

  12. Janet Walker-Games

    @abbottcheryl – Yes it has been some years since I worked there. That picture was taken in 1989. The other gorillas there at the time were Murphy, Abe and Benoit. This was the old gorilla building. The twins came to visit once in a while.

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