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Meet our blogger – Kendell

March 5, 2010

I am so excited about sharing stories about our animals here at Busch Gardens. They always make me laugh, and they challenge me in new ways everyday.

My official title in the park is Animal Care Specialist, but I think it encompasses so much more. I am a zoo keeper, educator, trainer, chef and, as my mom says, a “glorified pooper scooper.” When I was little, I was sure that I wanted to be a veterinarian because I had no idea there were other options for working with animals. Now after working in the zoo field for nine years, I know I made the right choice. I enjoy the daily interaction with the animals, the relationships I form with them, the training involved and especially educating the guests in our beautiful park. Truly my favorite part of the job is seeing kid’s faces the first time they touch a sloth or when they convince their mom to touch the boa constrictor.

When I was 16, I began working at Busch Gardens in the games department. What a great summer job. I met some amazing people that I am still in touch with, and I’m pretty sure I can still catapult a plastic frog onto a lily pad in one shot. After college I worked as a Giraffe/Okapi keeper at a zoo in Maryland. Although I was getting a ton of experience working with animals, I was mainly behind the scenes. When I moved back to Virginia, I was very lucky to get a position with the zoological department at Busch Gardens because now I can interact with the guests in so many ways—from being out in the park with the animals to visiting local schools for demonstrations.

Not only was I happy to be working for this department, but I was happy to be back at Busch Gardens. I am often asked if I get tired of visiting the park since I am there all of the time. No way. I love the atmosphere of this place. I love that as I exit the freeway I can see giant roller coasters (even if I am too scared to ride.) On my days off, my mom and I often visit the park and paint pottery in New France. I still have fun playing the games.

I love my job. It allows me to spend all day taking care of the most amazing animals, but they are a lot of work. At the end of my day I am very happy to return home to my very regular dog, Bridget.

I hope you enjoy the blogs I’m going to write about our animal ambassador’s lives. I can’t wait to see you all in the park this summer.

Kendell
Animal Care Specialist at Busch Gardens

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob permalink
    March 7, 2010 10:39 am

    Kendell, I used to get the same questions about getting tired of being at the park when I worked at BG last year. I never got tired of being there. It was a job, but the working atmosphere was great even when things got hectic. I had no problem taking my family up to BG or WC on a day off or getting home from working at the park, changing quickly and heading back with the family. BG is so much more beautiful than any other amusement park I’ve been to in the world, including other Sea World Parks & Entertainment parks. BG and WC are a huge part of why it would be difficult for me to move the family away from here.

  2. Shannon permalink
    March 7, 2010 12:00 pm

    Kendell, I used to be asked that about SeaWorld San Diego. And my answer was just the same as it is today for a Zoo in Maryland ( 🙂 ). No day is exactly the same and the people I work with are truly the best. 🙂 Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more in your blog.

  3. March 15, 2010 3:58 pm

    Can’t wait to hear more about your job. I want to work with animals when I get out of college too. Do you have any advice?

    • April 9, 2010 11:10 am

      Alyssa,
      There are many different routes you can take in school. Biology, animal science, psychology, zoo science, zoo animal technology, but the most important suggestion I have is … volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Find your local animal shelter, zoo or aquarium. Most of them will have volunteer opportunities as well as junior zoo keeping programs. Experience is key.

      • April 14, 2010 2:58 pm

        Thanks for the info. Is psychology good enough to just take care of animals or is biology needed for that?

      • April 16, 2010 9:02 am

        Hi Alyssa,

        Thanks for your interest. Any of the science studies are helpful in caring for animals. Psychology comes into play when you are training animals and it is a very important part in their care. We use it to train husbandry behaviors to assist with any medical care they may need. This is one of my favorite, helpful Web sites on this topic. http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/training/index.htm And I can’t stress enough how important those volunteer experiences are.

      • April 18, 2010 9:19 pm

        Thanks so much for all the advice.

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