HATTIESBURG, Miss - The animal Zookeeper relationship improves the guest experience at the Hattiesburg Zoo. Nancy Cleveland, a Zookeeper says, "When a Zookeeper goes home especially on their weekend, we'll keep thinking about them over the weekend wondering if they are going to be taken well take care of when you're gone. And Miranda is one that I think of."
A previously nervous Zebu cow, Miranda, was not the most social animal in the zoo.
Cleveland says, "They are not just nameless faceless animals that we are paid to feed, you develop a closeness."
Her relationship with her Zookeeper, Nancy, has grown that it's even helping the animal guest bond.
"We have children in this Zoo who do not have pets, that when they first see something this big, they do not think they can touch it, and then to see a child go from fear to really pet her (Miranda) then to not wanting to leave the animal when the parent wants to walk away. They make a quick bond, its amazing when they have a pleasant experience with an animal and then when they come back they go 'Hey Miranda, can I pet you again!'" Cleveland says.
The relationship between the two has grown that Miranda thinks Nancy is park of her kin.
Cleveland further says, "She is protective of me, she went from being afraid of me to when another keepter gets closer to me she will put her head down and shake her horns."
Cleveland and Miranda can't wait for what the future holds for them.
"I just hope I keep doing a good job, you know taking care of her, making sure she feels safe and loved." Cleveland says.
It's definitely clear that the Zookeepers relationship with the animals improves the quality of their life and the guest experience at the Hattiesburg Zoo.