Huh, I really didn't meant to turn this into an excrement discussion. I do help pick up about 1,200lbs of poop, leftover hay and dirt, a day, so it is kind of pertinent. And it is also the reason I don't currently need a gym membership. I can wield a pitchfork with the best of them!
Never the less, cleaning is a hefty part of the day, and we do clean every enclosure for our guys every day. We compost the poop in the back and then use the fertilizer in the park.
We also feed them - mostly hay, some grain and the Black rhinos really love their fruits and vegetables. We go though about 8-10 bales of hay a day and 80lbs of grain overall.
Each rhino has their own personality and it is so much fun to get to know them. They also get to know you, a little, and they respond differently to the different keepers. They enjoy rubs under the chin or on their backs and a good mud hole is no to be missed. They are virtual mud puppies (it's how they cool off, since they can't swim. It's also sunscreen, bug repellant and moisturizer all rolled into one wet, sloppy package.) We use positive reinforcement training to train mostly husbandry behaviors - behaviors that facilitate our care and maintenance of them. They come to their names, line up so we can inspect them for injuries or draw blood or do ultrasounds (all without sedation - though you do need a bucket of tasty treats or alfalfa, a sweet hay, as a focus for their attention.)
The day usually goes - arrive, check on everybody, shift, clean and feed. Training sessions can happen during the shifts (where we move them from one yard to another. Rhinos tend to have pretty mellow personalities, but they are still 1,000s of pounds and we do not go in with them. It's a safety thing. I'm down with it.) Weighing and any planned medical procedures usually happen in conjunction with shifting. You look every animal over, making sure they are moving right, are injury free, their poop looks normal, their food consumption is normal, and their inter-rhino interactions are normal. Once out, and on display, we clean some more and have our guest interactions. Whether it is on the pathways or during behind the scenes tours it is fun to share our animal knowledge and spread the message of conservation. I've had some great conversations with fellow animal enthusiasts.
Days can start early (before dawn) or end late (practically into the next day.) And if something special, like a birth, is expected, we might even work overnights. The zoo is definitely different, and a little spooky at night, when everyone has gone home.
I will end on this - it is such an amazing experience to be standing out in an open plain, interesting animals I've helped have a better life grazing near by with lions roaring in the distance (or, even better, Hyena's whooping into the early morning haze.) Animals are noisy, and their vocalizations can be heard all over the zoo. So, while I may work with just rhinos, I am immersed in the wildlife from all corners of this amazing world.
And that makes my world, just a little more amazing.