Daniel Meates, 41, serves as the general curator at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo and says he has been a zookeeper for more than half of his life.
Meates stands at the entrance of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, which boasts more than 370,000 visitors a year and serves as home to more than 700 animals.
Meates says he was hooked from the first time a hawk landed on his arm in middle school. "It's a completely different experience to see this bird, free flight, as it flies towards you and lands on your arm," Meates, who works here with a Eurasian eagle-owl, says.
The Eurasian eagle-owl's amber-colored eyes aren't its only unique feature. Its distinct vocalizations, including a deep "ooo-hu," allow it to be recognized by voice alone.
With a wingspan of five to six feet, the Eurasian eagle-owl is also known for its considerable appetite and can consume a whole fox. "That's a regular animal on the prey menu for this species," says Meates.