Good question, and pretty easy for me to answer because that’s me, Rick Schwartz! I have been a keeper at the San Diego Zoo for over eight years, working with a wide variety of animals and people. Recently I was given the opportunity to shift my focus from keeper work to ambassador work for the Zoo. As Elephant Odyssey’s ambassador, I get to travel around San Diego and the country as a representative of the Zoo. My job is to share with everyone anything and everything that is Elephant Odyssey.
That said, I need to tell you that this year the San Diego Zoo is going to open the largest exhibit area in its history: Elephant Odyssey. No pun intended, but this area is huge, and the animal care sections are going to be like nothing else out there! Of course, the Zoo is known for the exceptional care it provides to all of its animals, and Elephant Odyssey will set the bar even higher. As for guests visiting Elephant Odyssey, you will be immersed in a bioclimatic zone that will bring you into the environment AND take you back in time, too. Okay, okay, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. It’s all so exciting and there’s so much to share, I just can’t wait to tell everyone!
You’re probably thinking, “Do we need an ambassador? Everyone already knows about the San Diego Zoo.” As true as that may be, there are a lot of interesting facts that people may not know. For instance, did you know that elephants under our care range in age from 1 to 54 years old? Our youngest African elephant at the Wild Animal Park, Kamile, is a vibrant 1 year old and our oldest Asian elephant, Cookie, is a mature 54 years old. Did you know that the Zoo’s conservation efforts span the globe? We are conducting habitat studies in Africa, releasing California condors to the wild in North America, studying koalas in Australia, and so much more! Check out our Web’s new conservation section.
There is so much information to share with everyone about the Zoo, Wild Animal Park, and San Diego Zoo Conservation Research! Honestly, my enthusiasm for getting out there and talking to people tends to get the better of me.
Let’s face it: I’ve got a big job to do, one of elephantine proportions! The Zoo has a lot going on all the time, and this year will be more eventful than ever. Between the opening of Elephant Odyssey and the many conservation projects we’ll be highlighting, I am going to be a very busy ambassador, working hard to get the word out to everyone.
For now, as I trade out my zookeeper tools for a laptop computer, I ask that you keep checking our Web site. You’ll find new blogs popping up here and there and new videos coming online; a whole page dedicated to Elephant Odyssey should be debuting this spring.
Rick Schwartz is Elephant Odyssey ambassador for the San Diego Zoo.