We’re all about the animals, but we can’t do what we do without our keepers, who work tirelessly to ensure all of the living creatures in our care are thriving.
This year, we’re commemorating National Zookeeper Week by taking a moment to celebrate the exceptional qualities of our animal staff. Read on as we highlight a few of our amazing keepers who represent the diverse and inclusive culture that we strive to support.
Name: Mallory Bourne
Position: Wild Florida Keeper
Been at the Zoo since: January 2020
About the keeper: I have a degree in Zoo Animal Technology from Santa Fe College and I have worked on the Africa team, Barnyard team, and most recently the Wild Florida team here at Brevard Zoo. My favorite animals that I’ve cared for so far are the giraffes, black bears, deer and bobcats! I have three of our zoo animals tattooed on me; Kumi one of our female giraffes, Cheyenne our adult female black bear, and Plum our youngest white tailed deer.
What makes you unique: I am a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and I’m the shortest keeper in the animal department!
What inspired you to work with animals: I have always been drawn to animals. I never really thought about how there were more ways to work with animals than just animal shelters and vet offices. I started volunteering at Brevard Zoo after I graduated from high school and fell in love with the giraffes! It was from then on that I knew I wanted to be a zookeeper.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work with animals: Never stop learning! There are so many sets of skills that this job utilizes and you never know what you’re going to learn next. Plus, the more you know sets you apart! Also, be prepared for the “it’s a human exhibit!” comments.
Name: Katie Mulqueen
Position: Rainforest Revealed Keeper
Been at the Zoo since: August 2022
About the keeper: I have been in the field for 6+ years. I have lived all over the country and gotten to see and do a lot of cool things because of it. I would say my favorite place I have lived has been Washington State because of how different it is compared to the east coast where I grew up!
What makes you unique: What makes me unique is that I have ADHD. My brain works very differently from most other people which can be a great help for new ideas but also means I do struggle with certain things. Brevard has been amazing in helping me find tools I need to be successful. My supervisors are always looking for ways to help me out. My ADHD means I come up with some pretty crazy ideas and it’s really helped me become a great keeper because I think outside the box.
What inspired you to work with animals: Ever since I was little, I always felt a connection to animals. Instead of playing with dolls I played with stuffed animals. I also had a lot of dogs growing up, so I knew that I wanted to work with animals. I have always been shy and not great at making friends, always feeling different like I didn’t belong but within the first hour of the first day of my first internship with animals I knew in my heart I had found where I belonged, and I have never looked back.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work with animals: Work hard, Do your best and Never give up. Those words are what my dad told me every day as he drove me to school in the morning and it’s those words that got me through every hardship that came with becoming a zookeeper.
Name: Makayla Schaefer
Pronouns: She / Her
Position: Africa Keeper
Been at the Zoo since: 2021
About the keeper: I got my Bachelor’s degree from West Liberty University in Zoo Science and Applied Conservation and I am currently getting my master’s in biology and Zoo Science. Some of my favorite animals I get to work with are the African lion brothers Karoo, Chobe, and Ruaha. Whenever I am not at the zoo you can probably find we at the amusement parks or playing board games epically Catan.
What makes you unique: I used to Irish Dance when I was in elementary and middle school, and I played college tennis.
What inspired you to work with animals: My Mom would put me in Zoo Camps when I was in grade school, and I found that I had a connection with animals. Ever since then I have always wanted to work with animals and make them my passion.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work with animals: No matter what happens never give up and keep trying.