Keeper Profile: Kelly Pardy – National Zoo Keeper Week Series

From July 20-26, zoos all over the U.S. are celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week. Here at the Houston Zoo, we are honored and privileged to have such amazing professionals on our team. We got a chance to sit down with a few of our keepers and get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be an animal keeper. Be sure to follow along with our keeper profile series during this great week celebrating zookeepers!

Keeper Profile: Kelly Pardy
Kelly picture

Hey Kelly. Tell us a little about yourself. Since we’re always asked what it takes to be a zookeeper, can you give us some details about your journey to the Houston Zoo?

No problem. I work in the bird department, and I’ve been at the Zoo for almost a year. Before the Houston Zoo, I spent some time at the Minnesota Zoo, Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo, and the International Crane Foundation.


What does a typical day look like for you?

We start off with feeding all of the birds and cleaning all of the exhibits. After our morning routine, we have “rounds,” which involves the whole bird department getting together to talk about what’s happening in each separate bird section (e.g. eggs laid, medical notes, general observations).  After rounds and lunch – human lunch, that is – we feed out the rest of the food – bird food, that is – to the birds.  The rest of the day is pretty variable.  We generally work on projects (re-perching, extra cleaning, records, etc.), and we do keeper chats.  Red-crowned cranes, laughing kookaburras, and king vultures are the particular chats that I present.  At the end of the day, we pull all the food, clean the dishes, and lock up until the next day when we start all over again.

Whats the most enjoyable part of your job?

I love working with a wide variety of species because it facilitates a great learning environment.  I’m always observing new behaviors, different interactions, or even just researching general life histories about the birds which may be currently unfamiliar to me.

And the hardest part of your job?

Being from Wisconsin, which has more defined seasonal changes, the Texas heat has been a huge adjustment for me.  I’m getting used to it, but I still have a long ways to go!

What is one thing that you would like visitors to know about being a zookeeper?

Working so closely with animals is an amazing experience, but there’s a lot more to the job than that.  It’s a lot of hard work and most people do it because they are incredibly passionate about the animals with which they work.

Any good stories that you can share?

One thing that I’m really excited about is our golden-breasted starlings.  We haven’t had any golden-breasted starling eggs hatch at the Houston Zoo for nearly 30 years.  This summer, we’ve had 3 chicks hatch and all have fledged from the nest!  They can all be found together in Birds of the World.  Stop by and check them out!


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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.


Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂


Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Mike DePope

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We've heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing? ... See MoreSee Less


Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?


Comment on Facebook

Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Wow,that is so neat!

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!


Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Ashley Nguyen

Vicente Gonzalez

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Brrrr. It’s cold out there! We have made the decision to close the Houston Zoo tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 17. Don’t worry, the animals are safe and warm in their night houses!

A limited number of staff from departments like Animal Programs, Safety and Security and Operations/Facilities will be onsite to perform essential services and have the Zoo ready for us to reopen Thursday morning.

A big ol' high-five to our awesome team members who braved this icy cold to come in and care for our animals and zoo facilities.
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Comment on Facebook

Safety and welfare of the animals first! Thanks guys for all you do.

Yes thank you for everything yall do to keep the animals safe .. y'all keep safe and warm

Thank you for taking good care of our animals!

Thank u for keeping those Babies safe and warm!❤️

Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for ZOO LIGHTS. it was amazing this year!

Thank you, zoo team. Stay safe!

Mandy Rinker— really? Too cold? You’re from the Midwest girl


thank you for all you do and keep the furry babies warm


Thank you for taking care of our precious animals that we love to come see!

Thank you for keeping those beautiful animals safe. 💕

Thank you for making sure the animals are safe and warm.

Thank you for all you do for these amazing animals!!

Go, Erika!!!

Thank you 💕


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