Brian O’Doherty, who works at the Maryland Zoo, won’t say what his favorite animal is.
It’s not that he doesn’t love animals: he spends all day with them. But to name a favorite, he says, is to risk personifying it, to make a wild animal out to be a cuddly little creature that you might want as a pet, when really it’s a big old rhino.
(But the rhinos do act a bit like big dogs, he says.)
Workers at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore try hard not to “imprint” animals — to overexpose them to humans — so that they don’t lose their wild characteristics. When that happens, and animals form attachments to their human caretakers, it becomes harder to get them to mate, for example. To that end, Zoo stage may even avoid even telling visitors the animals’ names at times.There are exceptions — ambassador animals, like certain penguins, who travel around and meet students.
O’Doherty, who grew up in Baltimore, has been working at the Zoo for the past five years. His title is a cross between laborer and exhibit specialist. A lot of his work is building habitats for the animals — a cave for the porcupines, for example. To do this he needs to consider what kinds of material the animals find naturally in their environment, and also what looks aesthetically pleasing.
He got into photography as a teenager, and now shoots weddings and other events professionally. While working at the Zoo, he just shoots spontaneous moments with his smartphone. His photos capture a rare portrait of life at the zoo — it’s not quite wildlife photography, but it’s still pretty wild.
To see more of Brian’s work, follow him on instagram @odohertyphoto