Life at the Zoo

9840620a-8720-4ad1-afee-b441d21281b9Interning as an Animal Care Intern at the Franklin Park Zoo for the past ten weeks has given me the unique opportunity to work in close contact with a variety of exotic species. I have been able to explore the many aspects of animal care.

Throughout my internship, I was given the opportunity to conduct my own research project on the animal of my choosing. I chose to work with the Spotted Hyenas monitoring their behaviors in the exhibit and reactions to novel stimuli. The outcome of this project would be able to give the zoo valuable information concerning the care of the species and would maximize the amount of use the hyenas got out of their exhibit to increase their well-being. Through undergoing this project I was able to make an impact at the zoo beyond my time as an intern. This gave me a taste of the research aspect of animal behavior. I was able to explore the veterinary aspect of exotic animal care while observing the veterinarians when they would come to look after animals in the Tropical Forest Area. This included routine checkups on cotton top tamarins and gorillas, a pygmy hippopotamus ultrasound, drawing blood from a ball python, and looking after a duck with a swollen foot.

This internship has only continued to fuel my career interest in the field of exotic animals. I learned not only a plethora of animal facts and information, but also that though the work was highly physically demanding, if I am doing something I love that is pursuing my passions and working toward something much greater than my own personal enjoyment, such as conservation, what seemed like an difficult task becomes simple and enjoyable. I am going to take the invaluable knowledge I gained from working at the Franklin Park Zoo and apply it to my future endeavors in my future exotic animal career.

Written by Savanna Kiefer, BC Class of 2017



Beginning my summer as an Animal Care Intern at the Franklin Park Zoo I am utilizing the skills I have learned in my psychology and biology classes at Boston College. My courses have taught me different aspects of understanding behavior and how organisms interact within the environment. In the first two weeks this internship has allowed me to closely observe the animals in the Tropical Forest area. Using classical conditioning I am assisting in training different species to carry out certain behaviors, such as standing upright, opening their mouths, and moving in some direction; similar to teaching a dog new tricks. In doing this the animals better respond to veterinary treatments and form relationships with the zookeepers.

As a BC student I have an understanding of the Jesuit ideals and have been able to apply these to how I comprehend and approach my internship and all that it entails. Working in the Animal Care department at a AZA accredited institution gives me the responsibility of meeting the basic needs and more for the animals that are on display to the public and act as an integral part of fulfilling the zoo’s overall mission. I am able to be attentive to the necessary steps it takes to provide care for the animals, to be reflective on how my tasks are impacting not only their lives but also toward conservation as a whole, and to be loving toward the animals, my co-workers, and the environment. Together these three pillars of my Jesuit Education continue fuel the passion for my internship and to obtain the most out of my experience.

I am excited to explore more opportunities in the field of ethology and environmental science throughout the remainder of my time at the zoo.

Written by Savanna Kiefer, BC Class of 2017