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The 9 Most Durable Shoes, According to Zookeepers Who Work in the Mud All Day

“Unless we use duct tape and shoe glue, we typically spend over $100 on shoes at least twice a year,” Kate Olsen, the zoo’s assistant curator of animal behavior and conservation, told us.

Olsen said each zookeeper has their own preferred shoe styles and brands, noting that what works for one may not work for another. However, she said a common goal among staff is to find comfortable shoes that will last longer than six months of regular, heavy use and keep toes dry during long days outdoors.

“Waterproof” and “water-resistant” are very different things,” Olsen said, joking that even some supposedly waterproof shoes don’t keep your feet completely dry.

Theresa Wilson, director of ZooAmerica in Hershey, Pennsylvania, explained that shoe height can be another deciding factor for employees.

“Some people like full-boots and some people like low hiking boots,” Wilson told us. “Preferences depend on the individual and their comfort level.”

While Wilson doesn’t recommend any particular brands or styles, she pointed out that a solid zoo shoe should have traction, be able to get wet, and be something you’ll be happy walking in for eight hours a day.

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