An Intern’s Perspective: Expect the Unexpected

Author: Riley Benz
Major: Biological Anthropology
Internship Company: NEW Zoo

I completed my internship at the NEW Zoo to gain important experience with animals.  Learning more about animal husbandry, handling, diet prep and endangered species was key.  I expected the internship to be one-on-one with animals and learning about the zoo keeper role.  Not only did I learn key skills about zoo keeping, but I also learned how an AZA accredited zoo operates as a whole.

When looking for an internship, my advice is to expect the unexpected.  Always do more than they ask.  Go above and beyond because that is when you get rewarded with all of the “cool” tasks!

Working with an abundance of species was really an amazing experience.  There was never a dull moment.  From watching training on 10 year old giraffes, Zuri and Hodari, to giving an amphitheater presentation on a southern three-banded armadillo, Rollie (our You Tube sensation with over 2 million views).

Riley Benz_45667_assignsubmission_file_Hodari (male) Giraffe during feeding

Professionally, my favorite aspect was learning about the Species Survival Plan and presenting to the public about the zoo’s endangered species and what they can do to help.  I also enjoyed handling the animals.  By demonstrating the ins and outs of animal care, interning at the NEW Zoo has prepared me for a real career with animals.  I learned you have to be passionate about animals.  A Zoo Keeper is not an easy job; it is dirty and sometimes scary caring for wild animals but, in the end, it is worth it.

Riley Benz_45667_assignsubmission_file_Riley and African Leopard Tortoise Tobin

I highly recommend this internship to students.  Even students looking into the education field can benefit from this experience as we worked closely with both animals and the public.  For example, in a classroom setting, we taught students and daycare groups about our animals.  If you are currently searching for an animal-related internship opportunity, this experience is essential.

I had a great experience at the NEW Zoo and am thankful for the wonderful opportunity.


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