Seeking the “Zookeeper”
Deep in the rugged canyons of southeastern Colorado, hidden between giant boulders and a jagged ledge, is “Zookeeper.”
About 1,000 years ago, a primitive artist (or artists) pecked a stunning mural into a golden sandstone wall. Known as the Zookeeper Site, this rock art panel consists of one mysterious human figure surrounded by 47 wild animals. Is the mystery man a shaman? Or a hunter? Does this petroglyph panel celebrate a successful hunt? Or express hope for future successful hunts?
Here’s what my friend Lawrence L. Loendorf says about the “Zookeeper” figure in his book Thunder and Herds: Rock Art of the High Plains:
“Shown in full-frontal view, the figure has an elongated, ovoid body to which an inverted set of U-shaped legs is attached. Its straight arms project away from the body, and each ends in four disproportionately large, splayed fingers. Attached to the anthropomorphic figure’s right hand is a set of grid-like crossed lines that are larger than the figure itself. The object’s frayed ends suggest it might be a net or snare – or some sort of object of power.”
Here are details of The Zookeeper petroglyph panel. (Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Patrice Rhoades-Baum)
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