Schooling: BA in Behavioral Psychology from ASU
Official Title: Keeper Reptiles
How long have you been with the Zoo? 2008–almost 4 years!
Which department do you work for in the Zoo?
Living Collections Reptile Department.
What is the first thing you do when you get to the Zoo in the morning?
After clocking in, I change into my ‘zoo shoes’. We wear a pair of shoes at work that we leave here, so we don’t potentially spread zoonotic diseases around. I then check our daily reports for any important information for the group of animals I am working with. After that, I grab animal diets and then check on each animal for the area I am assigned.
Who is your favorite animal to care for? What are their personalities like?
It’s really hard to pick a favorite animal but in general I like the giant tortoises (Galapagos and Aldabras) the best. They are so much fun because they at least appear to recognize us keepers and the volunteers who care for them. They also seem to like attention and will often walk over to us wherever we are in the exhibit to get neck scratches. They are very personable and seem to enjoy interacting with guests as well. Plus, the fact that they can live somewhere around 100 to 200 years is pretty awesome! Also, I think it’s interesting that our younger Galapagos tortoise, Junior, has a very similar personality to her father Ralph. (Ralph and Mary, our other two Galapagos tortoises, are her parents and she hatched here at the Phoenix Zoo). She is very much like her dad because she seems to really like people, getting attention from them and will do just about anything for food. Her dad Ralph has the nick name ‘Ralph the Mouth’ because he loves to eat so much. Overall, the giant tortoises are cool mostly because, as far as reptiles go, they have a lot of personality and they are one of the few animals I take care of that seem to recognize me and care that I am around.
If you had to trade places with any of the animals, which would it be and why?
I would probably trade places with the giant tortoises. I think they have the life! They get to sleep as much as they want (sometimes most of the day), get a bunch of awesome food delivered to them daily, have volunteers that take care of them (AKA clean their house on a daily basis) and spoil them with lots of attention. They also have ponds to cool off in during the summer and their barns are heated in the winter so they always have a comfortable place to hang out in. Also, they seem to be a crowd favorite as our guests always seem to be interested in them. People request to meet them a lot for behind-the-scenes tours, which for the tortoises means more treats and neck scratches.
What has been your favorite memory working at the Zoo?
Being here when the baby komodo dragons were delivered and getting to hold one for the first time!