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The Zookeeper is a role in the variants Slash'EM Extended and SlashTHEM. Zookeepers start with items—including tripe rations, scrolls of taming, and leashes—that make it easy for them to acquire and maintain pets.

The Zookeeper first appeared in an early version of SLASH'EM (NetHack-- 3.0.10) but was dropped from the code at the time the quest branch was ported into that variant. The role was later revived and given a quest in Slash'EM Extended.


NetHack-- 3.0.10 was based on NetHack 3.0.10, which predated the skill system, so Zookeepers could use any weapons. The Slash'EM Extended version has a more restricted skill set:

Zookeeper skills
Max Skills
Grand Master

SLASHTHEM gives the Zookeeper a slightly broader but nuanced weapon skill set, and removes spell skills:

Zookeeper skills
Max Skills

The Zookeeper's special spell is charm monster. Spell success is determined by intelligence.

  • Slash'EM Extended u_init.c line 4372
  • SlashTHEM u_init.c line 2318 in v. 0.8


Starting equipment

The Zookeeper starts with a pet platypus.

  • Slash'EM Extended u_init.c line 475
  • SLASHTHEM u_init.c line 256 in v. 0.8

Rank titles

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Dog Feeder
  • XL 3-5: Cat Tamer
  • XL 6-9: Wolf Feeder
  • XL 10-13: Lion Tamer
  • XL 14-17: Mastodon Feeder
  • XL 18-21: Dragon Tamer
  • XL 22-25: Tyrannosaurus Feeder
  • XL 26-29: Kangaroo Tamer
  • XL 30: Zouthern Petkeeper

SlashTHEM has a different set of rank titles:

  • XL 1-5: Feeder
  • XL 6-13: Tamer
  • XL 14-17: Trainer
  • XL 18-21: Chief Tamer
  • XL 22-25: Vet
  • XL 26-29: Zookeeper
  • XL 30: Curator

Slash'EM Extended role.c line 2778

SlashTHEM role.c line 1660 in v. 0.8


The quest sees the Zookeeper fighting Fearful Triceratops for Liontamer, a lawful bullwhip which has +5 to-hit and +8 damage versus felines. This is an artifact from NetHack--.

SLASHTHEM gives the Zookeeper a new quest artifact, the Golden Whistle of Nora, a lawful magic whistle which grants warning, half physical damage, and ESP, and can be invoked for taming. Liontamer is now the first sacrifice gift for Zookeepers.

  • Slash'EM Extended artilist.h line 430
  • SLASHTHEM artilist.h line 601 in v. 0.8


The Zookeeper's pantheon comes from Norse mythology:

  • Lawful: Balder
  • Neutral: Edda
  • Chaotic: Hagen


The Zookeeper's first appearance was in SLASH'EM precursor NetHack-- 3.0.10, as one of nine new roles in addition to the twelve in the contemporary version of NetHack. The discussion thread in which the authors first announced the variant suggests that some of the new roles were taken from a list proposing a role for every letter of the alphabet. See here for the relevant post.

After the release of NetHack 3.1.3 in 1993, NetHack-- was updated to NetHack-- 3.1.3 by porting some of the changes from NetHack-- 3.0.10 into a patch for the newest version. Due to some changes in the vanilla code, however, some content was removed to improve compatibility with NetHack. Most significantly, NetHack 3.1 had seen the addition of the Quest branch. To avoid the challenge of fitting full-length quests for the roles that had been added in NetHack-- 3.0.10 into the patch code, those roles were simply left out of the patch.

There is some evidence that the developer(s) of SLASH may have wanted to bring back some of the roles, including the Zookeeper, as the DAT folder for SLASH 6 contains unused maps for quest levels for this and other roles that are not actually present in the version. The nemesis would have been a Y named "The Great Black Ape", and the quest artifact would have been a magic whistle called The Golden Whistle. (Lord Carnarvon appears as the quest leader, probably a holdover from the Archeologist quest.) The code for the maps indicates that the quest would feature numerous felines and apelike creatures.

The Zookeeper role, along with the other eight new roles in NetHack-- 3.0.10, made its reappearance in the variant Slash'EM Extended. It was also carried over, with some tweaks, into SlashTHEM, a variant of Slash'EM Extended v75.


  • NetHack-- 3.0.10 attrib.c line 117
  • NetHack-- 3.0.10 u_init.c line 215