We couldn’t do what we do without our keepers, who work tirelessly to ensure all the living creatures at the Zoo receive the best possible care. For the second year in a row, we’re commemorating National Zookeeper Week (July 17–23) by taking a moment to celebrate the exceptional qualities of our animal staff.
Since 2020, a group of employees has spearheaded a diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) committee to invoke positive change within the Zoo and our community as a whole. Follow along as we highlight a few of our amazing keepers who represent the diverse and inclusive culture that we strive to support.
Name: Nathan Edwards
Position: Rainforest Revealed Keeper
Been at the Zoo since: July 2021
About the keeper: I am a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Zoo, Aquarium and Animal Shelter Management. I have LOTS of tattoos, including ones of my favorite animals, things and Pokémon! Another thing you should know about me is that I am obsessed with spider monkeys – specifically, J, the black-handed spider monkey.
What makes you unique: I have lived in seven different states! I also still have baby teeth.
What inspired you to work with animals: I’ve always had a passion for animals growing up, so it was natural to eventually end up on the zookeeping path. Currently, I am driven by my love for connecting animals and people through education and animal experiences with guests.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work with animals: My advice is to never give up on your dreams and take whatever opportunities come your way, even if they lead down a longer road. Days are going to be tough and long but always remember your passion. Keep a positive attitude and never forget to laugh.
Name: Mick McPherson
Position: Swing Keeper
Been at the Zoo since: March 2011
About the keeper: Because I work in a swing position, you can find me all over the Zoo helping out wherever I am needed the most for the day! Interacting with the animals brings me a lot of joy. This job is truly an adventure every day, and I love it.
What makes you unique: I am a diverse individual. I am mixed race: black, white and Filipino. I am also part of the LGBTQ+ community! I identify as pansexual. I am gender non-conforming and present as (mostly) androgynous. I have a beautiful wife and adopted twins who have special needs. I am also neurodivergent and live with mental health problems. I am proud to be able to offer representation for these different groups.
What inspired you to work with animals: Sometimes I relate to animals better than I do with people. Animals have always been a huge part of my life; I have always had a lot of pets. In school, I loved learning about animals and their adaptations. My first job was at the Zoo in the giftshop, and I was inspired seeing the animals every day and watching the zookeepers work so hard toward their passions. I never thought I would be able to be a zookeeper, but here I am today! Representation matters – there are people that look, think and are different and different is not good or bad. It just is.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work with animals: The field of animal care is highly competitive. If you hope to work with animals one day, it is definitely important to work hard and to have a positive outlook. Do some research and decide in what capacity you want to work with animals so that you know what requirements there are. Things can get hard when working with animals. It is important to remind yourself why you want to work with animals in the first place.
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.