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Zookeeper Intern: Personal Expirience Essay

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Updated: Jul 25th, 2022

Working with animals is rightfully considered a demanding job that requires a person’s dedication to the process of caretaking and professional growth. Speaking of personal experience, in August 2020, I was hired by the Aggieland Safari based in Bryan, Texas. Aggieland Safari is a home for more than 100 species of wildlife, including the species that currently find themselves on the brink of extinction. Thus, considering the fauna variety and the area occupied by the park, it would be reasonable to assume that any person working for this place acknowledges the scope of responsibility they take when taking care of animals.

The position I held was a zookeeper intern, a profession that required unprecedented love for animals combined with responsibility and dedication. Generally, the duties of a zookeeper intern include day-to-day animal care, management of resources, cleaning and maintenance of animal habitats, diet and nutrition, close observation of animals’ behavior, and interactions with guests in certain situations. However, the list of these responsibilities is by no means limited to the aforementioned positions. Instead, being a zookeeper intern provides a person with a wide range of duties in order for them to obtain a better perspective of the hands-on experience of interacting with animals in the future, along with conducting research on their behavioral patterns.

Thus, in terms of my job, my primary task was to examine the details and specifics of the habitat and nutrition of the different species in order to provide the animals with high-quality care while maintaining the peculiarities of their natural environment within the premises. Moreover, I had to conduct exhaustive research on the matter of preserving the animals’ welfare, the insights on which I had to present to the facility’s supervisors. This research included finding relevant information on nutrition, supplements, and animal enrichments, or means of stimulating animals’ activity in the context of zoo captivity. Thus, my responsibilities as a zookeeper intern explicitly included continuous professional learning, gaining new skills, and critical assessment of my professional abilities.

It is hard to underestimate the significance of the experience I obtained during the internship. To begin with, it is necessary to emphasize the amount of practical knowledge I gained through cooperation with other professionals. Moreover, the research required to perform my duties allowed me to conduct in-depth research concerning animal species I never thought I would take care of on a daily basis. Moreover, when it comes to the positive gains from experience, it is important to mention that working with animals provided me with the ability to look at my future through the prism of the profession. Although there was never a doubt that I strived to work with animals, the encounter with such a variety of species helped me realized a more specialized approach I would like to pursue in the future.

Another important asset of the internship is the emotional aspect of working as a zookeeper. From the very start, I felt the scope of emotional attachment I felt for the animals. Such a meaningful connection motivated me to study even more, as my practical knowledge would have resulted in better living conditions for the zoo residents. When speaking of the physical aspect of the job, I have also realized how tiring caretaking was when done properly. The number of responsibilities predetermined by the job description requires full dedication to the process, leaving no space for distractions. However, the emotional attachment helped me get through the fatigue because I realized the meaning of everything I did.

Thus, when considering the specifics of my experience, it would be safe to say that this internship had a lasting impression on me and my vision of professional zookeeping. During the time spent at work, I have learned the amount of valuable information I would not make myself learn deliberately. Moreover, the major benefit of this experience is the future prospects it opened for me in the professional field.

However, despite all the positive aspects of the internship, there are some things that need improvement in order to provide future interns with more opportunities for growth and development. The first disadvantage I encountered was the lack of organized daily planning that resulted in the absence of tangible goals I had to meet during the day. Another major disadvantage was the absence of a proper training program, which, at first, was quite misleading for me. Although such a scenario helped me gain more autonomy and responsibility, the introduction of proper trainee support would be beneficial both for the new employees and the zoo. In order to combat this issue, I presented my superiors with a plan on improving intern training within the facility by displaying the information I learned myself in the process of preparation for the job. Thus, when considered by staff, this knowledge could be systematized and modified into a full-scale trainee course for the interns. Finally, creating a more organized system of task allocation within the staff team would be a significant improvement in terms of productivity and determination.

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