Tuesday, December 6
Hello, everyone! My name is Emily, and I have been here at Zoo Atlanta for the past eight months working as a keeper in the Zoo’s Program Animals Department at Wieland Wildlife Home. I am a Jersey native who had never been to Georgia before, and I can say I have loved every minute of living and working down here. The weather is still throwing me off because I have never been able to wear shorts in November before! In the Program Animals Department, we are the ones who host the shows at Amy’s Tree and World of Wild Theaters, and having such nice weather means we all get to be outside for our shows that much longer!
Here at Wieland, I have been working with a variety of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates, all of which we refer to as ambassadors of their species! Program Animals uses these ambassadors to educate visitors in our show settings and animal encounters on Zoo grounds. We have some awesome volunteer animal handlers who use the animals for encounters on grounds, while our education staff use them on school programs both on and off Zoo grounds. Since we work so closely with all these other staff members, and they are in Wieland frequently to pick up animals for programs, I send them what’s called the Weekly Update. This is just a short document I send out each week that lets them know of any programs we have scheduled for the week as well as changes that have taken place in the building. Changes can be anything from a new animal we have in the collection, to preparing for drastic weather changes, to animals moving to a different space in the building. My favorite part of sending out the update is being able to put my own creative touch to it every week! Since it is December, the update is various shades of green and red for the holidays. I love being able to add pictures to the update whenever I can, so this week I added a picture of our two new baby corn snakes and asked them to help us pick out some names.
So cute! Once these guys get big enough, I will be able to let everyone know in an update that our team of animal handlers can come down to Wieland to handle these guys when they have time so we can get them ready for education programs and presentations.
Speaking of shows, this summer I was able to put my acting skills to the test! Here at the Zoo we do a couple different presentations, and I spent most of my summer presenting in the Animal Adventures show at our Amy’s Tree Theater. This was my first time working in a scripted presentation, and I was very nervous, to say the least. The more practice I got with a script and the animals, the more comfortable I got, until the first show day. Our blue-and-yellow macaw Cortez had a big role to play, and I guess he was as nervous as I was because every behavior I asked him, he decided to stare at the audience instead! In Cortez’s defense, this was his first time doing this presentation in front of an audience and I was able to cover him well enough (I think) to make it through. Luckily the audience was mostly Zoo staff, so they were able to understand what it feels like when an animal doesn’t want to participate. I can gladly say the rest of the summer went much better, and when my parents came to visit they got some great pictures of me in my costume with the animals to use for the Bobal Family Christmas card this year!
Keeper I, Birds and Program Animals