Tanganyika is a wonderful and interactive place, but it didn’t just become that way over night! The people who work at Tanganyika are the ones who keep this whole place continuing on it’s path to becoming one of the best zoo experiences in America! So we want to give credit where it is due by giving some of our most talented zoo keepers a chance to talk about what they do and who they are! This also gives you a chance to understand the hard work and creativity that goes into making TWP operate this well from day to day. This month I talked to Tricia Smith about her experience as a TWP keeper.
How long have you worked at TWP?
I have been at Tanganyika a little over a year and a half if you include my internship here. In April it will be two years.
Which animals do you care for?
I am the primary penguin keeper here at the park, and I also help care for our two asian small clawed otters and our american alligator Luna.
Who is your favorite animal in Tanganyika?
That’s a really tough question because I love all the animals I work with, but if I had to pick one I would definitely say Trudy one of our african penguins. I feel like a little misunderstood. Sometimes she’s very moody, but I’ve definitely made a bond with her and I love Trudy.
If you could add an animal to the Tanganyika Experience what animal would you add?
I would have to say mountain lions. I had an opportunity to work with them at a past job. They have big personalities and they’re a lot of fun and one of my favorites!
If you could ambassador any animal in Tanganyika at all which animal would you choose?
I haven’t had the chance yet to learn to ambassador Ra and Draco! I love snakes and I would love to take them out and teach people about them. Especially since a lot of people are terrified of snakes and I would like to help them in changing that. So I think Ra and Draco would be my favorite to ambassador.
If you weren’t a zookeeper what would you be?
I think if I wasn’t a keeper I would love to be a part of the education aspect of zoo life. I love teaching people about animals, even adults. There’s something to learn everyday, I’m a keeper and I’m still learning something about my animals everyday. I think I would love being a part of the education aspect of the zoo field.
What is your favorite Tanganyika memory?
Yes, I do!!! Literally it warms my heart!! My favorite Tanganyika memory was the first time I introduced our juvenile penguins, Dipper, Mable, and Carlos, to the little pool we have in the back of Trouble Maker’s Cove. I got to see them swim for the first time. It was the best thing ever. It was really cute and fun to see that they didn’t just take to it right away. They had to figure it all out and were very awkward. So it was fun to watch and exciting to be a part of!
What is your favorite food they serve at the pavilion deli?
The icees. They’re a fun summer treat! Which is good to mention now that summer has ended.
How old were you when you wanted to become a zookeeper?
So I probably knew I wanted to be a zookeeper when I was little and visiting Sea World. Since I grew up in San Diego we would go to Sea World all the time. I would get to see all the keepers and trainers and I thought their job was amazing. That’s propable what sparked me wanting to work with animals and lead me to my first job with animals at Seaworld San Diego. And I was in the Shamu show! I loved working at Seaworld! They’re an amazing company! Education and conservation are their number one focuses!
What is favorite event we do at Tanganyika?
I love our Twilight Tour event! I love it because it’s a good fundraiser for the animals, but I also feel like it’s a really cool experience for the guests to go behind the scenes and see what we work with everyday. Kind of get a glimpse into a zookeeper’s life and see a part of the zoo that they don’t typically get to see.
What animal do you feel you are the most like?
I’m going to say our otters Audrey and Charlotte because, at Tanganyika I’m kind of known for being upbeat, and positive, and excited even when it’s unjustified. I feel like Audrey and Charlotte are both really excited all the time and they love their demos, they love their training, and they are really upbeat and peppy too.
Thanks for being such an awesome presence in the park, Tricia! You are an excelent example of rising above the events of your day and finding joy in the small parts of your job! We all really appricate you and you attitude and your passion for conservation! Your love for your animals is remarkable! Keep being excellent and stay wildly different!