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Learning more about the work zoos do

My name is Bri, and I am interning in the Ambassador Animals Department this summer. It has been an incredible summer, and I am so sad to see it end. However, I am walking away from this experience with more information than I imagined. While I love the birds I have gotten to work with and could talk about them for hours, I think some of the most important things I have learned involve the conservation work that Zoo Atlanta does.

Along with working in our departments, interns also attend classes every few weeks. In our class centered on managing zoo populations, Dr. Jennifer Mickelberg, Vice President of Collections and Conservation, taught us about the Species Survival Plan Plan (SSP), which is a major conservation initiative Zoo Atlanta participates in. This program is managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and works with AZA member organizations to manage the populations of specific species. By working together, AZA organizations are able to create stable, diverse populations.

Another way that zoos work toward conservation is educating guests on the issues animals face in the wild and the ways they can help. The Ambassador Animals Team informs guests in our presentations to convey the impact humans have on wildlife and the best ways to help make changes for the better. In our free-flight demonstration at the World of Wild Theater presented by Georgia Natural Gas, we discuss multiple ways in which people can combat various issues. For example, we talk about the importance of shopping for products that use sustainable palm oil, since unsustainable palm oil causes widespread habitat destruction for an array of animals. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has an app that allows consumers to verify which products use sustainable palm oil. We also discuss the importance of simply recycling, water conservation, and reducing plastic use, all of which have the ability to help sustain wildlife and their habitats for years to come. From working in the Zoo, I learned just how bad straws are for the environment, so I have focused on being straw-free all summer. I even bought my family reusable metal straws that they can use!

Getting the privilege to intern with Zoo Atlanta and specifically with the ambassador animals has been so rewarding for me. I would have never thought I’d walk away from this experience knowing so much more about not only the animals I work with, but the important role that zoos and aquariums play for conservation.
Ambassador Animals Intern

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl