PORTLAND, Ore. — Rod On The Job landed me at the Oregon Zoo this week and the job was a bit messy at times as I took on training to be a zookeeper.

The Oregon Zoo was originally named as the Portland Zoo and dates back to 1888.

The zoo is known as the oldest west of the Mississippi River!  Present day numbers show more than 2,500 animals representing over 200 species. More than one million visitors walk the zoo grounds in Washington Park on any given year.

My first job with Zookeeper Kristina was a little sticky as I took a walk with porcupine. The ritual serves as daily exercise for the body and the brain. I am told to stay clear of the quills, as lions have been known to be badly injured by the sticky points. I admit I enjoyed my walk but stayed clear when the quills headed my way.

Next up was more to my liking as I went behind scenes to weigh naked mole rats. Weighing is part of a healthy checkup. I chose to log the information and not hold the hairless critters after I learned their teeth can bite through concrete!

Next it was on to the tallest of the tall and the two giraffes that call the Oregon Zoo home. 

I got a little messy with a shovel in hand as the scooping of the poo was on the to-do-list.  The cleaning of the stalls was my reward for operating the tall hydraulic gates that let the giraffes out into the yard.  I am told giraffes mainly or entirely eat from trees or plants that grow at their eye level.  I enjoyed a precious moment of hand feeding carrots and leaves to the tall African animals, a moment I will never forget.

I  love animals, you will love the Zoo and I was sad to return to my normal gig as a television weatherman.

Thank you Zookeeper Lauran for a fun morning and up-close experience with the beautiful giraffes.

Rod Hill

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