A Behind the Scenes View of the Zoo

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Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here!

Today, interns had the opportunity to experience a whole new perspective of the San Diego Zoo. We met several off-exhibit animal ambassadors, got a sampling of the Inside Look Tour, and had some really special behind-the-scenes animal interactions.

Kim Carroll, a San Diego Zoo educator and our tour guide for the day, begins by introducing us to Kizzy the African gray parrot. Kizzy is one of the Zoo’s animal ambassadors, which means she’s a big part of the many education outreach programs that the Zoo offers.

Our next special guest is Cocoa, a southern three-banded armadillo. Her eye peeps out at the camera, but in actuality she relies much more heavily on her sense of smell; southern three-banded armadillos can smell a worm that’s eight inches underground, and her shovel-like front feet make it easy for her to dig one up!

Intern Rachel gets up close and personal with Nindiri, a female jaguar who lives in Elephant Odyssey. This view is from the back of her enclosure and, although not open to the public, it is a destination along several of the Zoo’s behind-the-scenes tours.

Our next stop is another backstage area. This time, we’re around the side of the camel exhibit. Special experiences like this are part of the Zoo’s Inside Look tour.

Mongo, the Zoo’s male Bactrian camel, wastes no time in joining our group. Here, Intern Crystal gives Mongo some tasty celery; in return, he gives her a handful of camel slobber—all part of the behind-the-scenes Zoo experience.

Behind the giraffe enclosure, interns feel some wiry giraffe tail hair. Giraffes are not the cuddliest animals, so we promise not to reach out and touch them. This ensures that the interaction they receive is always enriching and positive.

Of course, the giraffes wouldn’t turn down some delicious acacia. Intern Kayla feeds Nikki the giraffe some of this leafy browse, a big favorite among the giraffes. By the end of the day the giraffes have picked the branches around their enclosure clean. They’re eager to accept this bonus snack.


Sierra, Photo Team
Week One, Winter 2012