A program at the Magnetic Hill Zoo is providing teenagers with the opportunity to get a first-hand look at what it takes to be a zookeeper.

The zoo’s animal care apprentice program started 25 years ago, but was recently reformatted to the current Keeper Camp. 

“It's for teenagers that are 14 to 17 years old, and the idea is that they get to learn what it's like to be a zookeeper in a hands-on way,” says education co-ordinaor Cathy Simon.

Only five campers are accepted into the program each week. That allows them more time to see first-hand what a zookeeper’s life is really like – both the good and the unpleasant.

“There's the fun part of feeding and caring for the animals, giving enrichment and so on, but one of the daily realities of the zookeeper is you have to clean up after those animals too, so there's a little bit of shovelling manure,” says Simon.

This is Chloe Campbell's second year at Keeper Camp. The hands-on approach keeps her coming back.

“There are rats, there are mice, there are guinea pigs and rabbits. There are also chickens which are actually new this year and actually once a week we get to go in with the ring-tailed lemurs,” says Chloe.

This is the final week of Keeper Camp, but registration for 2018 opens in April.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.