Southeast Indian and West Indian
Animal Keeper, Ornithology (Birds)
Year zoo career began:
Leela Samaroo is a keeper at the Bronx Zoo in the bird department, where she works with a variety of bird species ranging from ostriches to penguins to eagles to parrots. She loves being able to interact with hundreds of bird species in her zoo. Her daily tasks include feeding the animals, cleaning their exhibits, and offering enrichment; these tasks can take up the entire day. Seasonally, she also has to help with nest building or gathering materials so the birds can work on their nests themselves. It would be impossible for Leela to pick a favorite animal, but she has a special place in her heart for pigeon and dove species and for waterfowl.
Leela loved animals as a child and always wanted pets. Her family encouraged her to become a veterinarian, as they didn’t know about the variety of jobs that exist with animals, and so her early goal was to go to veterinary school. Leela gained experience in college working at a rescue and an aquarium, along with completing formal veterinary clinic internships. In her senior year, Leela got an internship at a zoo which compelled her to become a zookeeper. After graduation, Leela got another internship at a zoo and then stayed on as a volunteer, which led to her current position.
Leela’s favorite part of her job is seeing her animals first thing in the morning, as they’re excited to see her and she’s happy to see them! She loves developing a bond with her animals over time. Leela’s advice to aspiring animal keepers is to gain experience with animals as early as possible through experiences like volunteering at a local animal shelter or family farm. When you have some experience, branch out by interning at a veterinary clinic or zoo. Try to make the most of your volunteer and intern experiences- ask lots of questions, make connections with the staff you work with, and learn as much as you can!