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About Author: Crystal

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Enrichment is for Everybody

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!

Have you ever seen those big, colorful balls in the Zoo’s polar bear exhibit? Did you think the balls were there to entertain the animals? Those balls are there for a reason. Yes, they do give the animals something to play with. But the bears are not just playing; they’re learning, training, and expressing their natural animal instincts. These toys are known as a type of enrichment, a way to improve or change an animals’ environment to encourage natural behaviors.

Yvette Kemp, a senior hospital keeper at the Zoo, works on improving the animals’ care with enrichment, giving the animals not only toys but also adding other things to their environment. Snow, for example, encourages behaviors in animals native to tundra habitats. By adding different smells to a habitat, such as a pile of leaves, animals can become interested for hours. Training is another form of enrichment. It helps the keepers with handling the animal, while also exposing the animal to different areas and new and exciting treats for a job well done. All of these are different forms of enrichment the animals receive at the Zoo.

Always wanting to work with animals, Ms. Kemp received a bachelor of science degree in animal behavior from Humboldt State University. She began her career at the San Diego Zoo in 1993 as an educator, giving tours. She later became a senior hospital keeper.

The most challenging aspect of  her job is keeping up with the never-ending list of caring for the animals. She honestly can not say there is anything she dislikes about what she does. She loves her job.

Yet, always trying to think of new, naturalistic enrichment for the animals can be hard. You need to know their natural history to find the right things that fit their particular needs. Enrichment ideas also have to get approved. Often, visiting keepers, Zoo staff, and members of the public who are observing the animals come up with some of the most creative ideas.

Crystal, Careers Team
Week Three, Winter Session 2012

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Plants are Underestimated

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!

Plants serve a much higher purpose than just making a place look pretty. Plants give life to an area and are the perfect example of conservation in every way. Plants are well adapted to their environment, conserving water whenever necessary. The thorns on some plant can even collect moisture from the air and act as a drip to get water to the roots. Plants are underestimated.

Mike Letzring, plant collections manager at the San Diego Zoo, dedicates his time to plant diversity and care. He is involved in a conservation project in Hawaii to save the coral trees. These trees were being wiped out by gall wasps, insects that attack tender, new growth, eventually infecting all of the leaves and killing the plant. By introducing a new insect species, the predator wasp, to the area, conservationists were able to control the amount of gall wasps and save the trees.

Mr. Letzring knows a lot about how to find the right plant for the right area. In a place like southern California, drought-tolerant plants are a good option for people who want to create their own little garden. Drought-tolerant plants, such as sage, do not require as much watering as a regular plant. But the plants in your garden do not necessarily have to be native to California. There are amazing and interesting drought-tolerant plants found in other places throughout the world.

More than 700,000 beautiful plants are exhibited at the Zoo. People who come to see them might want their own garden with these exact kinds of plants. Some of the plants at the Zoo, however, are endangered, meaning they could soon go extinct in the wild. The Zoo works hard to save endangered plant species with its conservation work on grounds and throughout the world.

Education about plants is really important. People come to the Zoo to see all the different kinds of plants, find out why certain plants look the way they do, and what purpose these plants may serve. Hopefully, learning about plants inspires people to protect them.

Crystal, Conservation Team
Week Two, Winter Session 2012

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What is an Educator?

Crystal feeds Mongo the camel.

Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have a 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!

What exactly is an educator? No, they do not just do the tours around the Zoo on the double-decked buses. There is so much more to it than what you see. Ms. Kim Carroll is an educator at the San Diego Zoo, and her days consist of more than just bus tours. She works with a diverse range of education programs such as the Kaiser Hospital program and “Growing Up Green,” writes education curriculum, and facilitates behind-the-scenes adventures for people of all ages.

Ms.Carroll has bachelor of science degree in zoology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After graduating, she was an interpreter for a local zoo and museum, a science instructor, and school teacher. She even worked under Jean-Michel Cousteau in marine biology for three years, living in the Cayman Islands and on Catalina.

Ms. Carroll has worked at the San Diego Zoo for four years, leading tours for adults and children, and doing outreach programs for kids in preschool through high school, twilight tours, and animal presentations, just to name a few activities.

With a job like this, there really is no typical day at the Zoo. Always doing something different is what keeps her days busy and interesting. Being an educator requires a high level of energy and flexibility in case something changes at the last minute. It can be hard to remain energetic after a long day, but she still keeps it going strong for all the tours or events happening throughout the day.

At the end of the day, it’s not about a paycheck; it’s about the purpose. Her love for animals and the desire to educate people about how we affect wildlife worldwide (and how you can help in your own community) keeps her passion alive. One day of work helps change so many peoples’ perspectives on these animals, and it can stay with them for a lifetime.

Crystal, Careers Team
Week One, Winter Session 2012

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Just a Little Out of the Ordinary

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!

Hello, my name is Crystal. To put my life in a nutshell, I am a teenager that loves animals and loves to try new things. I am usually out volunteering at different events within the community, doing work for school, or spending the day traveling around Orange County to look at antique shops. I have been a committed vegetarian for 7 years. I volunteer at the Humane Society. I absolutely love being busy with some sort of activity. I have had the same dream since I was in the fifth grade—to become a zoologist. I have always enjoyed reading about all different kinds of animals.

I am really into poetry and everything antique! I already own a record player and a type writer. My favorite  poet of all time is Edgar Allan Poe. I read one of his poems, The Raven, when I was in the seventh grade. Ever since then, I been hooked on his poems and short stories even though they are dark and mysterious. My favorite poem by Edgar Allan Poe is Anabell Lee. I love the story behind it because it is about his wife and full of emotion.

As long as I can remember I have always had a pet. Over the years, I have had dogs, hamsters, fish and guinea pigs. I even use to collect little bugs. The pet that I really want is a pig. I find them really cute and fun. What sparked this love for pigs, I’m not too sure, but before I knew it I thought they were the cutest animals alive!

I love to travel. I have been to several different cities within Southern California, as well as New York, Florida and Puerto Rico. My dream is to travel all the way around the world. I would really love to go to Russia, Costa Rica and Africa. I am just completely fascinated by how beautiful these places are. I really hope to one day live in Africa and have a little farm. I’m not too sure where yet, but somewhere near South Africa.

I am hoping to pursue a degree in zoology and attend University of Hawaii, Manoa, or the University of California, Long Beach. I am really looking forward to the college experience and am excited to start the next chapter in my life.

Crystal
Winter Session 2012