Scrubbing a wolf’s den one day and making a media appearance the next is a fairly normal occurrence for Sarah Holaday. She’s been a keeper at the Endangered Wolf Center for five years, and has loved bonding with all the different animals. The Missourian sat down with Holaday to find out what her dream job is really like.
Q: What are some surprising skills you use as a keeper?
A: Keepers are the ones who do all the maintenance. We repair fences and den boxes, deal with flooding and power outages, and we handle all the lawn care. We’re also butchers. People are surprised to see a bunch of women cutting up deer and bison, but most of our animals are carnivores and need to eat. We encourage people to donate — for example, I run our Amazon Wish List that has all the items we need. And we work with the animal ambassadors during events.
Q: Do you have a special connection with any of the animals?
A: We all care for all the animals, so it’s like a big family. I’ve really bonded with a fennec fox named Daisy. She’s very tiny, she’s been spoiled from the time we got her as a baby and because she’s known me a long time, she squeals when she sees me in the morning. There’s also Lucky. She’s the only maned wolf ambassador in the world because she had a unique upbringing. She almost died as a pup, and Regina Mossotti raised her in her basement with a dog foster mom. Once she was weaned she came to the center. The keepers drove her to NYC to be on “Today” once, and we stayed in a hotel in Times Square. She loved jumping on the hotel beds and rolling around in the curtains.
Q: What’s been the most memorable part of this job?
A: There are so many things. Because it’s such a small facility, I get to learn everything. That’s not something everyone in conservation can say. All the keepers get to go on cross-fostering trips where we release the pups into the wild. That made me feel really motivated, to actually see all we’re doing for the species we work with. This is a job you grow up wanting.