Instead of our regular Featured Keeper for this month I interviewed three of our interns. Each of these ladies have been here for a different amount of time and can help you get a taste of what TWP is like as an entry level zoo keeper. These are the young ladies I talked to:
How long have you worked at TWP?
E: I’ve been here two and a half weeks, so I started early this July.
T: I’ve been here since April 1st.
M: February 29th.
Why did you choose Tanganyika?
M: It was the easiest one to apply to. All they ask for was my resume! So I applied and I had two days to decide and two weeks to get here.
T: I chose Tanganyika because I used to work with one of the keepers here, Andres Couch, at a place called Cat Tales Zoological Training Center. When he completed his training, he interviewed here and is now a hoofstock keeper. When he got here he told me what a great place it was and I decided to go for the internship!
E: I came along with Andres and Trish. So I’d heard really positive feedback from them. I thought it was going to be a good fit for me, because it’s a big enough zoo that there are many different animals that I can have experience with but it’s also small enough that I can learn and not be worried about falling through the cracks like I would at a larger zoo.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned so far?
E: Animal care and safety. Also that you need to watch yourself when in the rhino enclosures.
M: I’ve learned all of the animal diets.
T: One of the most important things I’ve learned is how important it is to make sure that the customers who come into the park have a good time and how to go above and beyond to make sure they enjoy their experience, and get something unique out of the park.
E: With all the interactive stations we really need to keep an eye on the public. I also learned that I like Kansas!
Who is your favorite animal here at TWP?
T: Rudy. The binturong.
E: My favorite is Cordero (Giant Ant-Eater) but I haven’t got a chance to work with him yet, but he is an animal I’m super interested in. I’m doing my enrichment project on him!
M: I like Paco the Penguin.
T: Can I name more? Audrey and Charlotte our Asian small clawed otters!
M: Oh yeah! They are really cute!
Who’s your favorite zoo keeper?
T: My favorite zoo keeper is Megan. I love her routine and she does a really good job taking the time to explain everything, and not only explain everything but also teaching me about the animals she is working with.
E: I like Megan, as well, she seems to really care about the interns. I have worked mostly with Theresa and I really like her, she does a great job of showing us the ropes and she trusts us to do it on our own. I’ve done a lot of my keeper time with Theresa and she is a big help.
M: I’m thinking. I like doing the routine with Shannon, because she helps me do a lot. In the kitchen, both Theresa and Becca they make sure I know exactly what I’m doing and they’re really helpful when I have questions. I don’t know, they all are great!
What are your goals and dreams?
E: I want to be a zoo keeper for as long as I can walk. So a pretty long time. This place will get me a foot in the door and get my experience level up. I think it’s a good fit.
T: I want to be a zoo keeper. Specifically, I’d love to work with pinnipeds which are sea lions, seals, and walruses. I grew up working at Sea World San Diego and marine mammals have always just kind of been in my heart. I came to Tanganyika because I get an opportunity to work with everything here and that helps me make sure I’m heading in the right direction. I’m happy I came here because I learned that I love working with other animals, like the rhinos. I love the rhinos.
M: I think everyone loves the rhinos.
T: That’s because they are so sweet! I’d really enjoy being a big cat keeper. I love coming into work every day, and zoo keeping really is my passion. We have a really strenuous, manual labor job that takes a lot of passion but it’s worth it every day.
M: Well, obviously I want to be a zoo keeper. This is my first internship so I don’t have a lot of experience, but that’s what this is for. Since I’m doing a full season it’s more like three internships rolled into one if you look at the time frame. Ideally, I’d love to go back to the North West because that’s where friends and family are and, no offence to Kansas, but it’s awful here. It’s hot and humid and I’m dying.
T: So you appreciate the experience you’re getting here, but it’s not necessarily where you want to be?
M: Yeah, maybe for a year or two here, but Kansas is not for me. I would like to work with bears eventually, but we don’t have those here. So I’m hoping I can get more carnivore experience here.
E: I do want to be a carnivore keeper for the cats that is the end goal. Hopefully I can stick around here and maybe something will fall into place, but the end goal is to work with large cats. So where ever I have to go to make that happen I guess is where I’m headed.
Thanks to Megan, Tricia, and Emily for taking part in this interview and for finding answers to some difficult questions. We appreciate all the work you put in and the variety of talents and skills that each of you bring to the table. I hope you all live out your dreams and look back at your time at TWP as a key point in you zoo keeping growth!