Monday, August 22, 2016

Week 10 in the Desert

Name: Mara Eisenbarth
Class Year: 2017
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Internship: Elephant Intern
Location: Reid Park Zoo, Tucson, Arizona

Over the 10 weeks I spent in Tucson I have learned so much.  Not only have I learned a lot about elephant management, but I've learned how a successful team of keepers works together.  It has been really interesting seeing how differently keepers work together in small zoos compared to larger ones.  Here at Reid Park, all of the keepers have a morning meeting run by the zoo curator, whereas in Columbus, the morning meetings were split up by section to make them more efficient.  

So along with cleaning with the elephant team in the morning and observing or helping the team in the afternoon, I've been working on a project.  Before I came down to Tucson for the summer, my supervisor proposed that I make a compilation of videos that can be used to help incoming or new keepers learn how to train the elephants.  Over the course of the past ten weeks, I have been opportunistically filming the keepers while they train the elephants.  Ultimately I ended up with a slide or two dedicated to each behavior, and around 37 slides total.  After showing it to the keepers for feedback, I submitted it to my supervisor who also approved.  This project was beneficial to both myself and Reid Park zoo in that it taught me the basics and complexities of elephant training, while providing a resource with which to train the new keepers.   I was able to observe many many hours of training and go out to other parts of the zoo to observe other animals as well.

After three years in the Zoo and Conservation Science major, this opportunity was an incredible way to back up my knowledge of training, animal behavior, and zookeeping.  The elephant team was one of the most wonderful groups of people I've had the honor of working with.  Everyone was constantly looking to improve their already progressive management style.  No idea is too big if it means improving husbandry or welfare.  As a whole, the team taught me that you can never be overly qualified in the zoo field, as there is constant new research to be explored.  We are entering into a field that is changing by the day, and requires teamwork across the country and throughout the world.  It was very hard to leave this group of people after everything they taught me inside and outside of the zoo, but I am definitely more ready now than ever to jump into the mounds of work yet to be done to make a difference.

Thanks Reid Park!!!


No comments:

Post a Comment