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Loving animals of all shapes and sizes

Hi everyone! My name is Maggie, and I am an intern with the Ambassador Animal Department in Wieland Wildlife Home. Over the course of this summer, I have had the privilege of working with a variety of mammals and reptiles, from opossums and tenrecs to snakes and tortoises. All of the animals in Wieland have their own personalities, and it has been fun learning to love them all.

My love for all of the animals was fostered through interaction and learning more about them. Before this internship, I preferred to look at snakes from afar because I tended to view them as dangerous. However, the more I interacted with and handled them, the more I came to love them.

Obtaining knowledge about animals also played an important role in developing my love for the animals. My animal knowledge has grown exponentially during my time here at Zoo Atlanta. The best part of my experience has been learning about animals I didn’t even know existed. For example, I previously had never heard of the lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrec. When I saw one for the first time, I thought it was cute, but nothing too special. However, as I learned more about the tenrec and its interesting ancestry, the more I fell in love with it. Who would have thought that a tenrec could look similar to a hedgehog, but be related to elephants and aardvarks? Now I think tenrecs are one of the coolest (and cutest) animals!

You don’t have to take my word for all of this; you can experience it for yourself! There are many ways for you to increase your love for animals through personal interactions and gaining knowledge. Look for animal care professionals, Docents and interns leading animal encounters where they hold an animal and share interesting facts about that animal. You might even have the chance to touch the animal. Participate in the Zoo’s Wild Encounters program where you can get up-close-and personal with the animals and feed them. Take note of the Keeper Talks that are listed on the back of the Zoo map. This is a great opportunity to ask factual questions and learn more about the personalities of the animals. You can also attend presentations led by the Ambassador Animals Team, such as Wonders of Wildlife and America’s Next Top Zookeeper to learn about various animals in fun and entertaining ways. Lastly, become a Zoo Volunteer. You can’t help but love all the animals when you work with them and talk about them with others.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as an intern at Zoo Atlanta! Working with animals of all shapes and sizes has definitely been the highlight of my internship. One final thought … never judge an animal by its appearance. All animals are amazing and lovable in their own special way!
Maggie Shiffert
Animal Ambassador Intern

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