I’m in the exercise yard with Foster,
a parma wallaby. These are the smallest,
most nocturnal species of wallaby.
I got to work with a lot of amazing animals including (but not limited to) two fennec fox brothers, a 14 foot long Burmese python, a super smart white-necked raven, several feisty parrots, a grumpy but still sweet hooded vulture, and a very loveable white stork. Overall, we had about 65 different species in the education collection spanning three different areas at the zoo including birds, mammals, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles. So you must be thinking now: how did you ever stumble upon a job like this? Well, my sophomore year at AU over fall break, I decided to do a program at CMZ called Keeper for a Day as a birthday present. It is in the education department and you get to shadow a member of show staff for the day, help prep diets, help clean, and make enrichment for the animals. Not to mention all the behind-the-scenes tours since none of the education collection is on exhibit currently. During my day doing this program, I started telling the keeper, Katie, that I wanted to be a keeper, and she told me that they had seasonal positions open, she gave me her email and told me to send her my resume so she could forward it to her boss. Who knew that my birthday present would lead to my first job? The next spring I was coming in for an interview, and the following May I started on show staff and Katie was now my coworker. So fast forward three years to where I’ve been a pirate more times than I can count, been through numerous crazy situations during shows when something unexpected happens and you have to correct on-the-fly, helped train some really awesome behaviors for shows, and made so many great friends at CMZ, and now I am currently starting an internship at the Toledo Zoo. One of the things about this field is that you need lots of experience in lots of different institutions, so here I am, currently in the middle of my second week as in intern in the Arctic Encounter® area of the Toledo Zoo working on polar bear enrichment for our three bears, collecting data on the social interactions of our four grey wolves, and doing seal training for the six seals (2 harbor seals and 4 greys) that call Toledo Zoo home. I can say it’s very different in many aspects from my show staff experience, but I’ve learned a ton already and I really am enjoying the internship so far. There are many opportunities out there that will provide diverse experiences in this field, and I am looking forward to gaining those experiences and seeing what the zoo world can offer, because so far, it’s been a blast.
|Me, as a pirate, with our barn owl Tawny|