4:00AM should be far too early for any human being to be getting out of bed. And yet, Donna's up, showered, and out the door with coffee and a Danish by 4:35AM. She's off to her second home, complete with hundreds of animal roommates—the city zoo downtown.
Donna Doolittle—no relation to the famous doctor—parks in staff parking at 5:00AM. She was recently promoted to the Primates section (bigger promotion than you might think), so now she's in charge of all the monkeys, chimps, and gorillas at the zoo.
This morning, like every morning, she scrubs and cleans cages and habitats for her mammalian cousins. She scoops the poop and looks over the facilities to make sure nothing's broken—sometimes the chimpanzees break things in the middle of the night.
The primate psychologist blames nightmares, but Donna's pretty sure it's because the guy on the night shift hangs out with them instead of allowing them to sleep. He's a bad influence on these poor little monkeys.
Donna gets everything back in order. At 6:00AM, it's time for breakfast.
Donna weighs out the meals for all the primates. Each one is a little picky. She knows who won't eat mangoes and who loves cooked fish. She keeps everything in easy-to-read charts and makes sure that her animals get a nice rotation of grub—no one likes eating the same meal every day, not even primates.
Unless it's bugs in another primate's hair; they're always down for that.
Donna fortifies all the meals with extra vitamins to keep everyone healthy and strong. Charlie the veterinarian checks in occasionally to make sure everyone's healthy, but Donna's great at keeping her crew of simian friends in top shape. After the first feeding, Donna makes the rounds to get the gang up and moving.
She plays pattern games with Floyd the chimp and runs with Gauthier the gorilla. This is Donna's favorite part of the day because she literally monkeys around and gets paid for it—and her seventh grade teacher told her monkeying around would never get her anywhere.
Her latest project is getting Floyd to learn a secret handshake, complete with a choreographed high-five sequence that'd make a professional athlete jealous. Floyd nails the first few parts but gets bored and becomes far more interested in scratching himself. Maybe tomorrow.
By 11:00AM it's time to end this monkey business; the next couple hours are heavy on the paperwork. Donna fills out health charts for her animals and notifies the vet of any issues that might be happening. Most days are fine, but it's especially important to keep good notes during baby season. That's what the zookeepers call it when they have pregnant animals—which is most of the time.
Donna snags a quick lunch and makes a call to San Diego to check on the grant she's co-writing with the primate director there. They're looking to get money to fund an outreach program for kids to learn about the more exotic primates.
Donna loves chimps and gorillas, but she also wants kids to learn about the lesser-known human cousins like marmosets, the colobus, and Francois' langurs (yes, those are all real monkey-like creatures). All the writing is on schedule and they hope to submit their proposal by next Tuesday. Hooray for inter-zoo communication.
At 2:00PM, Donna does her educational duty. She leads groups of students through her exhibits and answers all of their questions on monkeys and apes (the most popular one being: "What's the difference between monkeys and apes?"). This—teaching the public about the animals—is her second-favorite part of the job.
After the final tour is completed, Donna provides the second feeding to the animals, practices her handshake with Floyd, and gets ready to head home at 5:00PM—a twelve-hour day, and that's only because nothing went wrong overnight.
Thankfully all her animals are healthy, so she should be able to get a full night's sleep. Even so, she doesn't really mind if she has to come back tonight. She loves this place, and her cable's out anyway.