Hometown: Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, CA (Oceanside)
Department/Title: Carnivore Keeper
How long have you worked at the Houston Zoo?: 8 years
How long have you been in the your field?: Total of 11 years – I worked at the Topeka Zoo for 2 ½ years
Animals I train: Patty (Spectacled Bear); Kadu (Leopard); Uzima (one of newest female Lions); Taji (Anatolian Shepherd)
Favorite animal: Spectacled Bears – bears in general!
Animals at home: I have a Blue and Gold Macaw, 1 dog and 2 cats.
Special interests/hobbies: Knitting, reading, hiking, working with Rhodesian Ridgeback and Anatolian Shepherd rescue groups. I also volunteer at a low cost spay/neuter clinic in La Marque.
What made you want to work at a zoo?:
Initially I wanted to be a vet but by the time I would have gotten accepted, I would have had to go to college for 8 years and didn’t want to commit the time. I also knew that I did not want to work with livestock animals as a career. One day a woman from Cat Tales, a private facility in Spokane, WA that specializes in cats, came to the university and did a presentation about cats and zoo keeping. She brought one of their leopards and took him out for part of the presentation. After talking with her I thought Zoo Keeping would be fun to do as a career. I did some research, decided that it was something I wanted to do and switched my major to Zoology.
Education/training: Bachelor of Science Zoology, emphasis on Animal Care from Washington State University and a Certificate in Zoo Keeping from Cat Tales Zoological Training Center.
Advice to anyone wanting to enter your field: Be prepared for a lot of hard work and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a job right away! Getting a job takes a lot of luck and good timing. You have to work for it and be persistent! If possible, take courses in psychology, training workshops, horticulture, and public speaking.
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