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College Students Learn What It Takes To Be a Zoologist

DES MOINES, Iowa – 17 college interns at the Blank Park Zoo are learning what a career in wildlife conservation is like.

The interns work in different areas throughout the zoo.

Animal Care Intern on the Small Animals team Susannah Stoever said part of their morning route consists of cleaning up after the animals from overnight and feeding them.

“This clipboard has all of our diets and what we need to mix for them,” Stoever said.

Small Mammals Area Supervisor Emily Link said she has two interns in the Kids Kingdom.

“It’s really just teaching job skills, especially if they want to go on to be a zoo keeper or work with animals,” Link said.

The two interns in the Kids Kingdom care for 26 goats each morning in addition to lamas, donkeys and other animals in the area.

Animal Care Intern on the Small Animals Team Rachel Svendsen said she has wanted to work with animals since she was a little girl.

“We’re helping to make sure the animals are taken care of, and that is just a really big passion of mine, so it feels really good at the end of the day,” Svendsen said.

In addition to the hands-on work, all interns must attend a class once a week and finish their summer with a project.

“The one we are doing is with red panda and we are testing her cognitive ability with different toys,” Stoever said.

The college internship is unpaid and students have to find their own housing and transportation.

Blank Park Zoo also offers learning opportunities for high school students who are interested in a wildlife conservation career.