A Great Conversation


At my job last night working the graveyard I ran into a young lady who really made my night.

It was probably about 4 am and like me she was awake and busy. We began chit-chatting about this and that and she mentioned her studies in animal behavior, she is currently working on her Bachelors degree. I asked her if she planned to go into zookeeping and she enthusiastically said “yes!”

Of course I then spent the next hour having a wonderful conversation with this up and coming potential keeper. Everything from zoo internal politics to best brands of boots and work socks. The bonds we form with the animals, the unexpected highs and lows and of course some of the more comical aspects of keeping. We discussed the difference between an animal caretaker and an animal collector, the importance of networking, AAZK, and conferences, the sadness at losing an animal for any reason but the ability to know what is the best choice and how to deal with that. Whales and elephants in captivity, moral duty vs. wild population and saving species. The horror stories and the caution of always keeping your wits about you. We also spoke of my own path and how I realized quite quickly after my daughter was born that I was becoming a liability simply because I couldn’t maintain that level of focus while raising a small child. We spoke about how I can’t wait to get back into it in a few years when the kids are ready.

She took down my email and I hope to hear from her on her progress in the field. She certainly had that passion and fire for it. She seemed very interested in all of my so-called wisdom. It felt good to be mentoring someone in a subject I care about again. It was a very pleasant night. I am so happy that even though I am not directly affecting my field at the current moment, perhaps in some small way I can help influence its future development.

Currently listening to Amanda Palmer and enjoying my evening with the kids (despite my cold.)

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