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What does a business trip look like for us?

Hello, it’s McKenzie, Senior Keeper in the Ambassador Animals Department, and I’m here to tell you a bit about professional development in the animal world. You may wonder, “What does a business trip look like for someone who takes care of animals for a living?” Well, there are quite a few different options for us, and some of them might not look too different from what a business trip for other professionals looks like.

One of the opportunities that we may have, which might be a little unique to this field, is what we call a zoo shadow or keeper exchange. In this situation, a keeper from Zoo Atlanta would go to a different AZA institution to shadow their keepers, and in some situations, we may actually trade places with a keeper from that institution for a period of time. During this, we watch the different routines, training, and presentations at the other facility in hopes to learn new things to bring back to better the wellbeing of the animals at Zoo Atlanta. It is also a great time to meet and fellowship with other professionals in the field.

Sometimes we also get the opportunity to host or attend different workshops. Zoo Atlanta hosts a few workshops, inviting others to come and learn training and husbandry techniques from some of our team. Other institutions also host workshops about different subjects relating to the field that we are invited to attend. The final form of business trip that animal care professionals often take is to conferences. Now, these conferences often have confusing acronyms as names (IMATA, ABMA, AZA, AAZK), but they all offer opportunities for professionals to attend and learn from others in the field. I recently had the ability to attend the 2024 Internation Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE) Conference which was hosted by Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon. Here, I was able to listen to presentations given by some of the top bird trainers in the world, once again in hopes of bringing back information to benefit what we do at Zoo Atlanta. I was also honored to be given the opportunity to present some of the training that we have done at Zoo Atlanta. Of course, the trip wasn’t complete without the conference field trip to see the amazing work being done at Cascades Raptor Center, as well as a banquet to finish it all off (we love any excuse to eat!). So, you see, even people who take care of animals for a living take business trips. They just center around what is most important to us … keeping our animals as happy and healthy as possible!

McKenzie B.
Keeper III, Ambassador Animals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl