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Zoo InternQuest is a career exploration program for high school students. Read the Zoo InternQuest Journal and view the Zoo InternQuest Photo Journal.

You would probably assume that working at the San Diego Zoo nursery would be any animal lover’s dream job. For Nursery Keeper Becky Kier, the past 24 years have been heaven sent.

The nursery staff has to be ready at a moments notice to help with an incoming baby. Oftentimes the babies that make their way into the nursery have been neglected or rejected by their mothers. The Zoo would rather that baby animals are raised by their mothers but sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances, the nursery keepers must step in and hand raise the animals. Sometimes these hand raised animals are used for education purposes and programs at the Zoo becoming ambassadors for their species and the Zoo’s conservation efforts. Once the animal arrives at the nursery, it is essential that the keepers work quickly and efficiently to ensure that the newborns get the care that they require.

Places like the nursery are essential to the Zoo’s goals for conservation. Researchers at the Zoo are using innovative science and care methods to save species and this process often involves the restoration and enhancement of genetic diversity. When young animals come to the nursery, the care provided by the nursery keepers ensures that the animals have the chance to reach adulthood. Successful reproduction in adulthood is key to conserving endangered species as it boosts species numbers and promotes diversity in the gene pool.

Kaitlyn, Conservation Team