Have you ever noticed the amazing art work on the keeper chat sign in the Children’s Zoo?
There is one keeper in the Children’s Zoo responsible for that beautiful art. Her name is Nikki Blakely and she has been with the Houston Zoo for 4 years. Her career here started with a part time position in April 2013 and she was promoted to full time in October of 2015.
Nikki is a primary keeper in our Ambassador Animal Building and takes care of a wide variety of animals. The Zoo’s Ambassador Animals are the animals you see at presentations, events and on Zoomobiles. She is also a primary trainer on several animals, including one of her favorites, Luna the Virginia Opossum.
While Nikki isn’t the only Zookeeper with artistic talents, her art is what you are likely to see as you enter the Children’s Zoo. We always have our Keeper Chat sign out in front of the Naturally Wild Swap Shop to let guests know what the Children’s Zoo chats are for the day. (Don’t know about the Naturally Wild Swap Shop? Click here form more info) As you can see, Nikki has used both flora and fauna for her inspiration. She has also used her talents on some of the enrichment for the animals.
Nikki has been coming to the Houston Zoo her whole life. Unlike many of us, she is a Native Houstonian. She even stayed true to Texas as she chose a college. She attending University of Houston and Texas A & M University earning a degree in Biology. She has raised many animals at home too! She has had horses, fish, birds and even chickens. Currently her pets include a ball python, 2 cats and a dove.
What would Nikki like everyone to know about her job as a Zookeeper? She says the job is very rewarding and in more ways than just being with the animals. It has given her an outlet for connecting her artwork with guest enjoyment to make her job even richer.
The next time you are visiting the Children’s Zoo, take a look at the keeper chat sign. And if you see Nikki on grounds, say hi and let her know how much we all appreciate what she does.