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Thank you, zookeepers! | Zoo Knoxville says 'thanks' to all its workers

Officials with the zoo said that everyone who works with them is considered a zookeeper, regardless of whether they work with animals.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When families arrive at Zoo Knoxville, they're not just greeted by elephants, monkeys and reptiles of all kinds. The first thing they usually see is a passionate worker eager to teach visitors about the wild animal kingdom and keep animals happy.

On Thursday, the zoo released a video thanking all Zoo Knoxville workers for helping share fun experiences and cutting-edge research with visitors. They said regardless of whether a person works with an animal at the zoo, all employees are considered a zookeeper.

"Everybody here is perceived to be a zookeeper, and they really are in so many ways," said Phillip Colclough, the zoo's director of animal care, conservation and education. "Whether it be our exhibit design, our marketing people, our accounting department, whatever. They're all zookeepers."

He said one of the ways the zoo thanks its employees is by bringing out food trucks and treating them to meals. On Sunday, Colclough said he will also be handing out ice cream for the zookeepers.

"Most of us have a hard time we're even getting paid to do this for a living," he said. "It's a dream and a passion that we followed since we were little kids, in most cases."