Name: Victoria Turbyfill
Class/Year: Class of 2017, Senior
Hometown: Danville, Kentucky
Location: Perth Zoo, Western AustraliaInternship: Animal Husbandry
My internship at the Perth Zoo in Western Australia was one of my favorite experiences in college. Not only was I in beautiful sunny Australia but I was working with incredible animals and dedicated keepers and conservationists. There were a couple things that really stood out to me during my time as an intern at the Perth zoo.
When I began my internship I was shadowing the keepers in the zoo's conservation breeding program. I loved being more intimately involved in ex situ conservation in the zoo because it helped me to gain a better understanding and appreciation for local Australian wildlife in need of conservation. They were breeding two frog species, the western swamp tortoise, dibblers, and numbats (both marsupials). All of these animals were being bred, studied and released into native habitat. The keepers not only worked ex situ but some were even able to go to the site of release and work in situ. Being a part of a breeding program helped me to truly feel like I was involved in conservation and making a difference. I had never worked with a program such as this one or even heard of one within a zoo. The breeding program was not open to the public but was a huge source of funding for the zoo. It was interesting to work not only behind the scenes of the enclosures but behind the scenes of a breeding program.
One other area of the zoo I had the please of working in was with their large carnivores and ungulates. The animals and keepers here were all incredible. The relationships the keepers had with these animals were deep and truly made the keepers some of the most dedicated animal caregivers. It was while I was working with these keepers that one of the male lions got sick and had to be brought into their vets office. He was very sick and in the end they had to choose to euthanize him because surgery would have been too difficult of a recovery. It was extremely difficult to hear the news. I couldn't image what the keepers who had known him for so long felt. Although it was very sad it was a good experience for me to see the impact one animal can have on a whole group of keepers and the community throughout Perth. Dealing with loss is real part of being a zoo keeper and coping with the loss of the lion was a group effort where the keepers truly supported each other.
Working with the other native Australian animals was also a great experience. I learned a lot about the multitude of marsupials and reptiles of the land. These were animals I had yet to work with. I highly enjoyed all of the animals and keepers at the zoo and the community they built together.
Short beaked echidna (education program animal)