This is a Rockhopper Penguin. They are agreeable little tykes that suck down fish like a kitchen disposal. They get a little crabby now and again, but I think they are amazing birds and swim like the dickens. For the most part, they truly enjoy attention and the Human Company they get when we arrive to tend to them.
This is a giraffe. Shy and skittish, they tend to keep to themselves, hate being touched, but are currently being trained to accept “browse” or leaf branches from the Zoo Guests. They are stunning to see and Val, the Elephant and Giraffe Keeper calls them his “Tall Blondes”.
This is a Val. Val kind of runs things around the Elephant and Giraffe House. Whether he really does or not doesn’t matter to me because when I am over there he runs things in my time there. Val was kind enough to allow me the “elephant in my face”, mid-morning jelly bean break with “MaiTai”, the female elephant. He’s very proud of his House. He’s strict, stern and makes me laugh. As a matter of fact, I can hear him right now talking on a microphone across the street. It’s 5:45 p.m. but he’s over there yakking on his microphone to the “Educator’s Expo”. He likes imparting information and I can guarantee that if you listen to Val speak, you will learn something whether you want to or not. Val clearly loves his anmals and is bent and determined to educate the masses. He succeeds.
This is a Matt with Sammy. Matt is a Human and Sammy is a Salmon Crested Cockatoo. Both have jobs here at the Cincinnnati Zoo. Matt is an incredibly patient Keeper who says to me at 7:30 in the morning, “Hey, I’m doing the outdoor birds today…Want to come along?” And then I end up hosing down the Lorikeet cage which I actually enjoy doing, along with feeding the Andean Condors, the Stellar Eagles and the Sand Hill Crane who is a pain in the ass. Matt loves his job because he told me it’s more than a job. “It goes deeper than that.” Sammy has a job sitting on an island near the Reptile House entertaining the Guests and getting his photo taken. Sammy is probably one of the most photographed birds at the zoo. Sammy was not named for being a “Salmon Crested”. He was named after “Samuel Adams Beer.” Sammy knows his job and so does Matt. They both think their job is important. They are both absolutely correct.
Patricia Sund is a Free-Lance Writer residing in Florida with her three African Greys. She has been published in About.com, Bird Talk Magazine, Birds USA, In Your Flock Magazine, Good Bird Magazine as well as numerous websites and newsletters. She is currently doing research for a book titled "Parrot Nation".
September 10, 2008 at 12:45 pm
I wonder if you will ever be able to drag yourself away….
Fascinating reading your blog and being drawn in vicariously to your amazing internship. More, more, I say.
September 10, 2008 at 6:03 pm
It will be very difficult. I know I love being here but the work is painful and I just hurt all of the time when I was doing it full time. I’m taking time to talk to the other departments so I’m not toting the load as much, but I try and help out when I can. I can happily state that the Bird House Staff never expected me to be doing any work at all. But I got their attention when I, as Ricky said, “busted some suds” for 2 hours on my first day. (I washed dishes.)
I’m pleased to report that I have been told I may return any time I’d like to help out. and you know, I probably will. It’s not necessarily a relaxing vacation; but it sure as hell has been interesting!