Thursday, January 28
Greetings and salutations from Program Animals! Let me tell you a tale. In June of 2011, I began a five-year journey through the furry, feathery, scaly world of Zoo Atlanta as an intern at Wieland Wildlife Home. I learned an enormous amount of information about animals I had never worked with before and spent a lot of time learning how to speak in front of audiences of variable sizes doing trivia at Amy’s Tree Theater and animal encounters with the animal ambassadors. I learned very quickly that I was responsible for all of these little creatures and to help spread conservation messaging and impact Zoo guests on their importance to the environment.
After a few months working with the Primate Department, when Remy the orangutan was still teeny-tiny, I made my way back to Wieland Wildlife Home as a seasonal keeper before joining the team full-time. After a year of hard work, I was in! Four years later, I have been able to accomplish so much professionally with such an amazing group of people around me within my immediate area and all around the Zoo. My supervisors have been incredibly supportive of my goals and training projects. Coworkers have taught me how to use power tools in variable ways to create and maintain exhibits.
As a first-time professional, I learned how to communicate, organize, and create/maintain helpful documents. Alongside Education, we created the Show Birds and Animal Ambassadors Keeper for a Day program. Training is a huge part of my job in order to not only prepare for shows, but also to make tracking health and welfare of the animals a smooth process. My first training project as a keeper was training rats to voluntarily go into a kennel so that we could clean their area. After the kenneling behavior was solid, we were able to train a “rat run” at Amy’s Tree Theater. It was a great challenge but very exciting and super-cute once finished. There is nothing more exciting to me than changing perceptions about animals like rats, opossums, snakes and other critters that have a bad rap.
I say all this because I am leaving Zoo Atlanta now and headed to a new opportunity so that I may continue to grow as a zoo professional and experience new animals and a new environment. I have enjoyed working with so many around the Zoo, including Volunteers, interns and Volunteens. I also have had the pleasure to collaborate with Education, Horticulture, Advancement, and other administrative departments, as well as the Maintenance Department! Anyone would love working at this zoo and educating the public about the importance of all the creatures (and plants) of the world and the impact we have on the environment. We have the ability to make such a difference, and the people at this zoo are so passionate about sharing that message with y’all!
Keep tuning in for information about more exciting news happening in the department. Show season is approaching. The pressure is on for training behaviors and creating costumes and stage sets, in addition to the daily routine. I will now be tuning in for Zoo Atlanta updates just like you and am very excited to see what happens. See you on the flip side, everyone.
Keeper II, Program Animals
Keeper II, Program Animals