Zookeepers have revealed their tattoos to show the special bond they have with the animals in their care.
Colleagues from Dallas Zoo in the US showed ink on their legs and arms as part of a series for National Zookeeper Week.
And the reaction to the pictures and the keepers’ tales on social media has been awesome, with the pictures continuing to pull in likes and shares.
“I’m privileged to care for some of the rarest animals on Earth. I protect endangered species so they don’t become the dinosaurs of today – through sustainable breeding, of course, not stopping asteroids.
“My tattoo is a constant reminder of where my passion stems from, and a rad way to feature my favourite dinosaur, the Parasaurolophus.”
“I knew I wanted him with me, but I could never find a tattoo design that felt right. A year after he passed away, I came across a 1931 copy of The Mentality Of Apes, the book that Dr Jane Goodall took into the field with her in 1960.
“One of the first pages had a simple sketch of a chimp and I immediately knew that was the right design.
“I had a wonderful artist who was able to bring Kona into a piece of history that was carried by my hero to one of the most pivotal study sites in the history of conservation.
“Now I get to carry my memories of him with me every day, and my inspiration for the protection of this species.”
“Growing up in Iowa, I would watch bats fly overhead and catch insects in the dark; it sparked a curiosity in me to understand them better.
“Bats are unbelievably complex and constantly misunderstood. With more than 1,200 species, making up 20% of the mammal population, these animals play a pivotal role in insect control and are critical pollinators.
“We take for granted how such a minute creature can play such an enormous role in our ecosystem. I take great pride in having such a bold piece of artwork exemplify how amazing these creatures are.”
Nathan and Kim
“I got my start in this field working at a raptor rehabilitation centre; I’ve cared for birds from all over the world, including native raptors.
“The great horned owl has always had a special place in my heart. And it was just a bonus that when I met Kim she also had an owl tattoo. Game over.”
“It was the little things with her – the look in her eye, the quiet rumbles, the subtleties in behaviour.
“Saying goodbye was hard but it’s an inevitable part of working with animals. Now she’s always by my side and serves as a reminder to always do the best I can for the animals in my care.”
“Mambas, Texas horned lizards, and crocodile monitors all have a special place in my heart.
“Everyone gets tattoos for different reasons, and I tend to use tattoos as therapy. These animals and their images have helped me through many of life’s challenges.”
“Mandrills have super-ornate skulls that are unique to their species. The male’s skull gets larger and more ornate as they become dominant. I was able to find my groove as a zookeeper with these monkeys. And my personality is totally mandrill – Obi is my spirit animal.”
Dallas Zoo initially shared the pictures on its Facebook page, where it also posts videos, pictures and stories about the animals in its care.