A Summer at The Zoo

As a child .if you had asked me if I would have wanted to work at a Zoo for the summer, I would have told you that you were crazy. First of all, I am allergic to almost everything with fur. Second, I quit horseback riding lessons on my first day because I thought the horse was trying to eat me. Third, I was petrified of dogs until age 9, and if I even heard a dog barking, I would go running back inside my house.

But I have come a long way since then. I am no longer afraid of animals, and I quite enjoy their company. Sadly, just around the time that I begin to enjoy the wonders of animals, I also learned that many animals are in danger of extinction because of climate chance, deforestation, and more. This devastating biodiversity loss around the world has even pointed to what may be the first human driven mass extinction in history. I saw this summer fellowship as a chance to be educated and to work toward a sustainable future for all life.

Being the Conservation and Education Programs Fellow at the Greenville Zoo has allowed me to explore what Zoos are doing globally to promote species conservation and diversity. I was able to work with the Zoo campers as they are educated about deforestation and the dangers of Palm Oil, see the buzzing bees around the pollinator gardens, use the rain barrel water to water the garden outside the education building, and so much more

Apart from what I have personally able to help with, the Greenville Zoo is a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which holds them to the highest standards of animal care and conservation. Part of this includes being a part of a Species Survival Plan, which is kind of like a dating program for zoo animals. Scientists at the SSP headquarters compare the genetic makeup of possible matches to see which pairings would create the most genetically unique offspring. This practice is especially important because if these animals are ever released from their managed habitats, they have a better chance at survival.

I have learned so much about what goes into maintaining a zoo and education programs. I am discovering more about how to manage my time and complete tasks efficiently. Although I do not see myself working at a Zoo in the future, I am grateful for this experience and for everything that I have learned.