Q&A With National Geographic Museum’s ‘Croc Keeper’

Baby alligators at National Geographic Museum. Photo by Mark Thiessen
Baby alligators at National Geographic Museum. (Photo by Mark Thiessen)

Last week, National Geographic Museum at National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C. opened its family-friendly, interactive exhibit, “Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World.” “Crocs” explores a family of species that has flourished for more than 200 million years, and showcases the diversity of forms the group has taken during that time period.

Visitors can interpret croc calls, create 3-D animations, and test their strength against a croc on a modified force gauge. The exhibit also features dioramas with both models and living crocodiles. Yes, live crocodiles just a few blocks from the White House.

Thankfully, they didn’t come alone.

Jake Woods, a zookeeper from Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland (the accredited zoo in Pennsylvania where the exhibit was created), has come to D.C. and is taking care of National Geographic HQ’s new residents. He recently answered some questions about his wild life and “Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World.”

Jake Woods with a display crocodile in the National Geographic Museum. (Photo by Shakita Tucker)

What does your job with the current “Crocs” exhibit entail?

A lot of feeding and maintenance of the animals—they’re crocodilians, so they do have a nice, healthy appetite. Also keeping things clean—there’s a lot of water, so making sure the pumps and filters and stuff like that are all working as they should.

It’s a very highly interactive exhibit so there are lots of buttons, lots of TV screens, lots of things like that. I need to make sure all of that stuff is working as well.

How did you get this gig?

I was a biology major in college but I kind of geared it more toward ecology and animal studies. And then out of college I got an internship with a zoo in Kentucky that’s an —> Read More