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ANIMAL CARETAKER AT HEART

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!

ivanna wildlifeEver since I was little, animals fascinated me. Whether it was taking care of dogs, turtles, fish, or cats by feeding them or simply playing with them, I enjoyed all the time spent with them. What really drove me to want a career in vet sciences was my own experience with my dog. Outside of loving animals, I enjoy school, especially biology, as well as ballet and track.

I am a social, and determined person. I always try to give 100% in everything that I do, and find the best in things. I enjoy talking to people, and really just being social. I also like to be positive and find the best qualities of things or situations; I guess you could say I am an optimistic person.

The event that made me want to aspire to become a vet was an incident with my dog “Snicker.” He was hit by a car and lost his leg. I was taking care of all his needs, like addressing his wounds and giving him his medications. I got the idea of wanting to take care of other animals the same way I took care of my own dog. This led me to become an assistant in the veterinary hospital my dog was treated at. Learning the proper care of different animals was a memorable experience that I wanted to learn even more. I was told by my AP biology teacher of the Zoo InternQuest program, which gave students the opportunity to explore jobs in different animal and wildlife fields, such as zoo keeping, conservation. I found this to be the perfect opportunity for me, and I quickly applied.

Outside of the program, I enjoy dancing ballet as well as long distance running. Since I was 6 years old, I have been dancing jazz, contemporary dancing, and of course ballet, eventually I chose to only practice ballet. To be successful, ballet requires discipline as well as mental strength. I try to give 100% in everything I do, and always have a positive outlook. Long distance running is a hobby that I recently picked up, I began to run my sophomore year and it is something that I enjoy doing in my spare time to refresh my mind. I also like to bake. I have been baking with my grandmother since I was a little girl. I love all kinds of sweets, and of course chocolate, which is why I love baking.

I am very excited for this program, I find it to be exactly what I am looking for, which is to explore different fields in the biology world. Maybe I will even find a profession I like besides being a vet. I am looking forward to the other skills I am going to learn that will help me in my future. I know it’s going to be a motivating experience.

Ivanna
Fall Session 2014

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READY TO LEARN!

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!

Alon Profile pictureHello world! My name is Alon and I am a senior in high school. My curiosity for animals started at a very young age when my dad and I would watch David Attenborough’s BBC specials together. I would stare wide-eyed at the screen learning all I could about the interesting creatures before me. My favorite episodes were the ones centered on the plains, and the big animals that inhabit them. David Attenborough has definitely inspired me to see the beauty in animals, like my favorite, the wolf. Since watching his movies, my curiosity for animals has only grown. Having a dog has also helped enhance my passion. I have a seven year old boxer named Mona, and I am proud to call her one of my best friends. Having her around has helped me realize I find animal behavior extremely fascinating.

Some of my hobbies include snorkeling, hiking, skim boarding, playing music, and camping. The ocean is what I love the most though. Whether I am swimming or diving, I just love being out in the water, seeing the fish, and being in the waves. I especially like going to La Jolla because of the seals and the Garibaldi fish that are visible on most days. I also like being outside, exploring, and being active, and if the activity includes seeing animals, then it makes me even happier. One of my favorite hikes is one right by my house in Carmel Valley that ends at a waterfall. On the way to the waterfall there is a lake that is filled with ducks. It is quite a sight. It is a wonderful hike and I never get tired of it.

I have always known that I wanted to work with animals, and I am ecstatic that I can say I am an intern at the San Diego Zoo for the InternQuest program. I had been looking for a program that would really help me develop my passion for animal behavior and behavioral ecology. As soon as I found the Zoo InternQuest application, I pounced on the opportunity to apply. I am thrilled I have the chance to learn about different careers within San Diego Zoo Global, and I am even more excited that I can share my experiences with all of you.

Alon
Fall Session 2014

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A Ukulele Playing, Creative Cooking Conservationist

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!

Rose DoHi! My name is Rose, and I’m currently a high school senior.

Although I’m short in stature, I definitely do not fall short in my enthusiasm for animals and the environment. I’ve spent all of my life here in San Diego frequenting the Zoo, going to the beach, and going camping. Watching my older brothers’ adventures as they worked towards their degrees in biology and environmental systems which have really influenced my interests and career goals. I was able to follow one of them along through his journey as he lived in the Amazon rainforest and studied monkeys in northern Vietnam through his blog. My other brother let me tag along with him to La Jolla beach to examine shells during his internship with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

As a result of their influence, I took conservation science throughout middle school. The class really broadened my perspective about what conservation really encompasses – whether it is specific animals, environments, groundwater, and so on. One of the things I was able to do with that class in conjunction with the science fair was to study the best way to grow cacti for the endangered San Diego cactus wrens. If you wanted to, the best way is to plant a cactus pad horizontally on its side rather than vertically where the cutting is since it can develop more roots this way. I’m currently taking AP environmental science to further explore problems like population grown, waste management, and other things that are becoming increasingly important. It’s really exciting to me even though the issues can be devastating because it always feels like there’s some hope to do something and fix the problems.

When I’m not worrying about the environment or school, I like to play guitar or ukulele. I tend to write a lot of silly songs as an outlet for stress even if they’re no good. In addition to songwriting, I love to cook and bake. I took Culinary Arts and Management last year, which really helped me develop myself as a person. I learned how to communicate effectively, complete tasks efficiently, and above all else, cook!

With all that I’ve experienced so far, I think I’m headed towards a career in the conservation science field conducting research in whatever I find myself involved in. However, I know there are so many other options I have yet to explore. I could specialize in the study of certain endangered animals, focus on specific environments, or even become and educator. The possibilities seem endless! I am so ecstatic about having the opportunity to take part in the Zoo InternQuest program. This is giving me a chance to not only expand my horizons, but also learn about what I could be doing for the rest of my life.

These next seven weeks are going to be fantastic!

Rose
Fall Session 2014

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MY PASSION IS WITH NATURE

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!

wesleyAlthough most immediate family members and peers resort to calling me by my legal name, Wesley, other acceptable titles include “the vegetarian,” “the drummer,” “the strongly opinionated one,” and occasionally, “the spaced-out day-dreamer.” These titles shamelessly suit me perfectly, but one title that I can identify with more-so than any other is “the passionate one.” Whether it’s academics, music, or the outdoors, I believe my capacity for passion far exceeds your average high school student.

Since my first visit to the San Diego Zoo at the age of six, the core of my collective passion while growing up has been centered on all things regarding the environment. In my earliest years of environmental interest, nature fascinated me beyond belief. During this time, rather than being cooped up indoors on the Internet or huddled in front of a television screen playing video games, I preferred stumbling in the marshy waters of the San Diego River or marching through the brush of Mission Trails. I felt genuinely happy and connected to the world when outdoors on my hikes. When I was inside, I felt like I lacked enthusiasm and creativity. These backcountry adventures have directly influenced the person I have become today by cultivating a deep love for the Earth. However, my passion for nature has grown to become more than just an appreciation for the outdoors. I have now become more conscious and aware of the issues facing our planet through hours of devoted research, and volunteer work at the Helen Woodward Animal Center. My interest in the environment grows daily as I learn more and more about the natural world. Over time, a clear conclusion has risen that my passion lies solely in protecting and stewarding the Earth.

Whether the issue is pollution, habitat and biodiversity loss, there is no question that each problem must be solved as soon as humanly possible. Conservation and the reversal of all negative impacts inflicted by humanity are key to our planet’s future. The Earth is in a dire state and the only ones who can implement change are those who are willing to take action. I am one of those people.

Through the InternQuest program, I hope to hone the skills I already have and develop new ones; all for the purpose of becoming more knowledgeable and environmentally aware. Despite my current conservation-based career path, I also hope to examine and discover new career paths, so that I can find the perfect one for me. I have been looking forward to an opportunity like this one for a very long time and I can’t wait to get started!

Wesley
Fall Session 2014

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A MIND LOOKING TO STUDY MINDS

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!

Olivia Downs photoI haven’t always loved science in a traditional way. Experimenting with bugs was not accompanied by a data collection sheet and lab report when I was a kid. By the time I was in third grade, however, growing beans in science class, I knew science was something that really interested me. Checking how much each sprout grew every afternoon was not only exciting (despite the protests by my fellow classmates to the contrary—but they thought dirt and worms were disgusting!), but it became what I looked forward to most from school. Since then I’ve explored biology, zoology, chemistry, physics, engineering, psychology, microbiology, and neuroscience, mostly through school, but also through extracurricular programs and independent study.

Though I’ve had such a diverse education science-wise, biology has always been my clear favorite. Squishy things are just inherently fascinating to me. Recently, zoology has also become a strong interest of mine. Working with animals has always been a dream of mine, but realizing I could be able to work with elusive, endangered, or otherwise extraordinary animals launched my love of zoology. One of my goals is to have a tank of octopuses, because octopuses (yes, the grammatically correct term is octopuses, although octopi and octopodes are also accepted) are the most fascinating, intelligent, and entertaining animals. For now, though, my cat suits me just fine.

My involvement with the Zoo spans about seven years, starting in middle school. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to go behind-the-scenes and interact with some of the most interesting and inspiring animals and professionals in the world—keepers, researchers, animal ambassadors, educators, animals both on exhibit and off. Some of my favorite experiences were seeing tiger cubs and getting roared at by their mother, watching eggs tumble as their inhabitants tried to hatch in an incubator behind the scenes, and spending the night at the Safari Park. InternQuest is an even more exciting opportunity for me, and as someone looking to go into the biological sciences in college (and beyond!), I know it will be an incredible and educational experience.

Outside of studying science, I enjoy creating art in felt and bookbinding. Although it’s my hobby and not my future career, I still manage to fit a bit of biology into my work! I am excited to start blogging for this program, and I hope it might become one of my new hobbies. We’ll see!

Olivia
Fall Session 2014

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FROM THE RANCH TO THE ZOO

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

belleHi everyone! My name is Isabelle, but everyone calls me Belle. I am an enthusiastic senior high school student who can’t wait to join San Diego Zoo’s InternQuest program!

Animals have been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. In fact, my childhood dreams included training reindeer to pull Santa’s sleigh and hosting the show Zaboomafoo with the Kratt Brothers. As I grew up, so did my love for animals and learning about them. Right after I turned ten years old, my family left the city of Chicago to big San Diego and I still remember the very first time I came to San Diego Zoo. I held my Icee in my new lion cup in front of the meerkats and realized I want to be with these fascinating creatures for the rest of my life.

While my experience with wild animals has been limited to observing them on countless trips to the Zoo, I have been lucky enough to be able to work hands on with domesticated animals and, in particular, livestock. There’s always that one person we know in our class who is absolutely horse crazy. Well, that person is me. I began riding horses and have been learning more about them for the past seven years. I eventually wanted to go beyond just horses and began to learn about all the livestock animals I could. My favorites by far are cattle and goats. Now that I’m older, I can take my love of animals even further. I am so excited to learn from wild animal handlers and discuss their passions that are now their careers. While animals are my passion, my other interests include acting, cooking, and waiting in line at every Marvel movie premiere. I also love to paint and spend time outside whether it is swimming, hiking, or camping.

Eventually, I aim to obtain a degree in animal science, specifically in animal nutrition. InternQuest offers me an opportunity to learn about careers I’m not as familiar with. By having the chance to meet with Zoo professionals and blogging about their careers, I am taking my very first steps into the professional animal world. My goal for this program is to continue learning about animals but to also learn about the conservation of these species. The transition from being a ranch girl with a biology class under her belt to an intern at San Diego is a challenge that I am more than enthusiastic about. I cannot wait to meet with professionals who have achieved the goal of combining their passion with their career and truly making a difference.

This ranch girl is ready to expand her horizons. I am so excited to be part of the San Diego Zoo InternQuest program and I hope you join me on my new adventure by enjoying my blog!

Belle
Fall Session 2014

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Adventure is Out There

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!

markI am so excited to take part in the San Diego Zoo’s InternQuest program to learn about different careers working with and/or for animals. Since I was knee-high, I have always been fascinated by the outside world, and could spend hours in my backyard watching lizards and birds go about their lives. Of course my backyard was never enough, and I was always itching to go hiking, camping, or wildlife exploring in the greenbelt behind my house. My passion for the outdoors has grown throughout my life, and I now spend my summers backpacking and kayaking in some of America’s wildest places. In the summer of my junior year I spent 28 days kayaking off of Petersburg, Alaska, in a region with more bald eagles, sea otters, humpback whales and black bears than anywhere else on earth. I love traveling to strange and unique places. I have seen many pristine habitats (mostly) untouched by mankind so I take conservation very seriously. To have the opportunity to learn what I can do at home to help the environment would be a great privilege.

When I’m not in school or backpacking through some mountain pass, I spend my time hanging out with friends, sketching, or painting. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, and my artistic focus has always leaned towards animals and nature. I prefer to draw from life, without using photographs or other references, so I keep a sketchbook on me in case inspiration strikes. Drawing isn’t my only hobby, I love to play sports, work out at the gym, chill out and watch movies with friends, and try exotic foods. Whether it’s Ethiopian, Thai, South African, or Ecuadorian, I’ve probably tried it and it’s probably delicious. I am the varsity captain of my school’s wrestling team, and have been grappling my way to the top since freshman year. Wrestling is a brutal but rewarding sport, and through my struggles I have built a strong relationship with my team and my coaches, who have all helped me become a better teammate and leader.

I am a senior, and college is right around the corner. I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I want to study. I have a pretty good idea what I want to do in life, but I’m still not sure which career will get me to where I want to be. I know that I want to go into zoology with a focus on herpetology (study of reptiles), but finding a way to reach that goal is harder than it seems. I’m hoping that having the opportunity to speak with experts working for San Diego Zoo Global will help me better understand what career paths best suit my interests and abilities.

Over these next seven weeks, I am hoping to learn as much as I can about the careers available in animal science, and share as much as I can in my blog. This opportunity is truly one in a million, and I can’t wait to get started.

Mark
Fall Session 2014

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The Animal Whisperer

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 jobs, and the blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

isabellaHello, my name is Isabella!

Even at four years old,I had a connection with animals and aspired to be a veterinarian. This connection intensified with my best friend and dog, Ginger. She was rightfully named from the color of her fur, and was not agreeable with most people. Fortunately, this was not the case with me. I ran straight up to her and I felt as if we understood each other on an emotional level. Nicknamed the Animal Whisperer, I knew I had to work with animals and the environment.

Growing up in Kansas City, I traveled to the Kansas City Zoo quite often with my family. Even though I was only five, the animals immediately captured my attention and affection. I remember holding my Dad’s hand as he pointed out the different animals as he explained where they lived and how they could survive in their different environments. I can still see the giraffes as they towered over me, eyes filled with content and love for their families and keepers.

When I moved to San Diego, I was extremely excited to see a Zoo of such magnitude. My first trip entailed about a thousand pictures, and oohing and aweing at every single detail. One of my favorite memories is of my Mom and I eating at Albert’s Café. We were laughing thinking about how we got lost on our way to the elephant enclosure and at the same time talking about when we could come back.

After discovering my passion for giraffes when I was able to feed them at them at the Safari Park with my Dad, I realized that a career with domesticated animals was not for me. I loved the way African animals were able to roam the wild, free to move about as they pleased with their families. As a senior, I found myself changing my plans for college; I wanted a more environmental emphasis to assist the natural world with preserving the environment and eliminating pollution. These next seven weeks hold promise of opening up my eyes and expanding my horizons to different worlds of how I can help the planet.

I enjoy many activities, including sports and anything outdoors. I have played basketball competitively since fourth grade, and have been involved in varsity basketball and shot-put for three years of high school. My first real experience of being outdoors is when I went camping and canoeing with my family. The tent was flooded, the sleeping bags soaking wet, and everyone huddled together as darkness set in. Even though none of us could sleep, we pursued our plans to go canoeing the next morning. My dad, sister and I were in one canoe, my brother, oldest sister, and Mom in the other. As we paddled and paddled, arms weak, water splashing in our faces, our canoe never tipped and we beat my Mom!

My academics have always been rigorous with AP and honors classes. I love to challenge myself with the demanding coursework. However, when I have time off or need a short break, I like to the read the Michael Bennett series by James Patterson and Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell.

I’m looking forward to the next seven weeks and learning from the experts at San Diego Zoo Global. I hope my experiences and my blogs inspire you to go to the Zoo, explore, and learn about the environment.

Isabella
Fall Session 2014

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Panda Party for Mr. Wu

Just wait until Mr. Wu sees his birthday ice cake!

Just wait until Mr. Wu sees his birthday ice cake!

Xiao Liwu’s birthday party is just around the corner—July 29! The time does fly by fast as this little panda guy is turning 2! Come join us to celebrate his birthday starting at 9 a.m. in the San Diego Zoo’s Panda Trek! If you cannot join us in person, make sure you tune in to the Panda Cam at about 8:50 a.m., when “Mr. Wu” is scheduled to come out on exhibit. Our Forage Department has been putting their creative caps on and working hard for a couple of weeks to make another masterpiece cake (and they get better and better every year, don’t they?). I have only seen a sneak peek of this one, and it has a Day at the Beach theme. All Wu fans are invited—make sure you wear your sunscreen, best beach hat, and flip flops for this big event! We will see what Mr. Wu thinks of water after this day!

Xiao Liwu now weighs 88 pounds (40 kilograms). And what would Mr. Wu want for his birthday? A $14 donation to the Zoo’s Animal Care Wish List goes toward our enrichment program, which funds items such as new hammocks, perfumes (his favorite scents are ginseng root, wintergreen, and cinnamon), materials to make a slide, and some edible goodies, which can enrich the lives for so many of our animals. You can also Adopt a Panda, which helps fund the Zoo’s enrichment program, and perhaps take home your own panda plush to call Mr. Wu.

Jennifer Becerra is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, “Go Potty,” Xiao Liwu.

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Black & White Overnight 2014

See Bai Yun before the Zoo opens for the day as part of our Black & White Overnight!

See Bai Yun before the Zoo opens for the day as part of our Black & White Overnight!

Hello, Panda Fans!
We are busy preparing for the Black & White Overnight sleepovers this August! The Black & White Overnight on August 2 through 3 will be a family sleepover, open to guests ages 4 and older, while the Black & White Overnight scheduled for August 9 through 10 will be for adults only.

Both Black & White Overnights will include up-close experiences with black and white animals, special entertainment presented by the Zoo’s own animal researcher, Dr. Zoolittle, and private tours of the Zoo. The family sleepover will include a scavenger hunt with clues to help you find black and white animals all over the Zoo and a special animal presentation around the campfire. The adults-only sleepover will include an adult beverage with dinner, a dessert bar, and a special presentation on current panda research.

In the morning, both overnight groups will enjoy some panda time! We will meet a panda narrator and a panda keeper, visit with the pandas themselves, and, finally, have the chance to wave to friends and family on the Zoo’s Panda Cam!
This year’s Black & White Overnights are sure to be fun for all. We hope you can join us for a Black & White adventure this summer!

Can’t make it to the Black & White Overnight this year? Even if you’re not attending, check out the Panda Cam to see our campers wave hello at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 3, and Sunday, August 10! Read all about the Black & White Overnight in our next blog post, where we’ll give those who attended a chance to share their stories and comments!

Or join us for another sleepover event:
Carnivore Campout: August 16
Spooky Sleepover: October 18 and 25

Visit our Sleepovers page or call 619-718-3000 for more information!

Megan Adcock is a conservation education specialist. Read her previous post, Carnivore Campout Kick-off!