Animals up-close

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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 on the Zoo’s website!

Ms. Kimberly Carroll, an Educator at the San Diego Zoo, introduced us to just a few of the different animals guests have the opportunity to meet during an Inside Look Tour. Meeting meerkats, an African gray parrot, a Bactrian camel, and Masai giraffes definitely made our experience not only memorable, but fun and educational.


Meerkats Hakuna and Matata are Animal Ambassadors, which means they are used during presentations for educational purposes. Their role during presentations is important in connecting people to wildlife and conservation.


Ms. Carroll and Ms. Stephanie Alexander, Education Supervisor, harness Hakuna and Matata for our presentation. Ms. Carroll said that working with animals is one of the parts of her job she likes the most.


Hakuna and Matata love going on walks through the Children’s Zoo digging for earthworms and other snacks. Their walks are a form of enrichment, which helps to bring out some of their natural behaviors. Enrichment is not only important but necessary for all animals at the Zoo in keeping them happy and healthy.


Parrots are highly intelligent animals so they always need new and interesting things to keep them busy. Ms. Carroll and Kizzy, an African grey parrot, are working on some different vocalizations. Ms. Carroll uses a combination of verbal cues and hand signals to ask for behaviors and then when behavior is successfully accomplished, Kizzy receives a treat.


Ms. Carroll is with Ms. Alyssa Medeiros, a Panda Narrator. Ms. Medeiros educates the public about giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo and highlights the importance of panda research in managed care facility in order to help pandas in the wild.


Panda narrators, like Ms. Medeiros, ensure that the viewing environment of the pandas remains safe and calm for the pandas and guests alike. This allows the pandas to be more relaxed so they may have a better chance to exhibit natural panda behaviors, including vocalizing, eating, sleeping and breeding.


Cameron, a fellow intern, is overjoyed to meet Mongo, a Bactrian camel. Ms. Carroll explained that Mongo has very long eyelashes to help keep dirt out of his eyes.


Our last stop was to the Masai giraffes and intern Victoria gets to feed a curious giraffe. Giraffes have a long prehensile tongue, used for grabbing foliage for eating. Their tongue can actually extend up to 18-20 inches!

Marcel, Photo Team
Week One, Winter Session 2013