National Tattoo Day 2023

July 17, 2023

To many of our keepers, there's no better expression of love and devotion for the animals they care for than by honoring them with a permanent artful tribute on their skin. Meet some of our Animal Care staff and hear the stories behind their animal-inspired ink!

Keeper Aeriell:

"My portrait of Iniko the wonderful Hooded vulture. When Iniko first arrived at Oakland Zoo she was very unsure of new people and her new surroundings. We spent many hours sitting with Iniko to allow her a chance to acclimate to her keepers and begin desensitization training. She slowly but surely gained trust in us which significantly impacted her welfare in a positive way. Iniko and I now have a special relationship that I will always cherish." 

Iniko the Hooded Vulture on Keeper Aeriell

Keeper Melissa:

"The portrait style tattoos are from our volunteer Barb, who fell in love with all the animals on string 4 and those are actual portraits of the animals we have here at OZ. The gibbons are Rainer and Mei."

Mei and Rainer White-Handed Gibbons on Keeper Melissa

Keeper Madison:

"On my forearms I have sacred ibis and white faced whistling ducks. These have been my favorite birds to work with and are two species we also have at Oakland Zoo!" 

Sacred Ibis (Top) and White Faced Whistling Ducks (Bottom) on Keeper Madison

Keeper Ashley:

"It is in memory of my little brother Ian. My family all have bat tattoos to represent him. 💕 For mine I used Oakland Zoo's flying foxes, one of my favorite species that I've been able to work with. This is of one of the boys in a plum tree, based off a photograph I took of him."

Flying Fox on Keeper Ashley

Hospital Keeper Nikki:

"The first Tiger I had the privilege to work with - Shasta!"

Shasta the Tiger on Hospital Keeper Nikki

Keeper Jesse:

"This illustrates some of the things I loved about living in the Pacific Northwest and has a special addition of the Virginia Opossum I worked with a few years ago that stole my heart. "

Virginia Opossum on Keeper Jessie

Keeper Alicia:

"This scarab with raptor wings is based on the rock band Journey's Greatest Hits album art and is in memory of my father."

Scarab on Keeper Alicia