Career takes off | Ohio Wesleyan University

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Career taking off

Ohio Wesleyan student tends to animals during summer internship

By Sarah Jonassen ’22

Makenna Juergens ’23

Name: Makenna Juergens ’23
Hometown: Springfield, Ohio
Major: Pre-professional zoology
Minor: Psychology
OWU Login To live: Animal Care Internship at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Juergens spent the summer doing a zookeeping internship at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, Ohio.

“As someone who grew up taking care of animals, from pets to hooves, the ‘dirty’ side of zoo maintenance was nothing new to me,” Juergens said of the experience. . “Stripping habitats (cleaning and maintaining animal areas) is a long and often very sweaty process, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t at least appreciate it a bit.”

What do I do

“I have learned to feed over 100 zoo animals on a very tight schedule. Being on a ‘diet’ for the day meant I was the one to feed everyone, and hand-feeding a porcupine sweet potato while a child-loving audience watches is a feeling I don’t think so. to forget.

“Many of the animals in our zoo cannot be released due to various health concerns, and it was also interesting to learn how the care is specialized for our special zoo residents. Munch, a flightless crow blinded by dog ​​attack, cannot perch like a normal bird; therefore, she lives on the ground with slightly raised sticks that help her feel like she is high in a tree.

Lessons learned

“I learned the most from the animal programs, when someone takes one of the animal ambassadors to see the audience and gives a brief introduction to the animal. When entering the internship, this is the part that excited me the most. At the end of the internship, this is the part for which I am most grateful.

“Doing animal programs not only helped me with public speaking, but also helped me think on the fly, deal with many children by hand, and taught me to notice stress signals in many different animals. “

Preferred time

“I asked to do an extra project where I gave a goalkeeper talk on the big stage to be filmed. In the last week of my internship, I took an Eastern Screech Owl named Bowie, one of the advanced animals that requires extra training to handle, on stage for a program. While there is a lot of extra work involved, I don’t mind doing it because Bowie is so cute. I wish there was a way for me to take him home after this is all over.

My plans after graduation

“I went on an internship to find out if the zoo was the right career for me, and learned a lot more about myself between long days of stripping habitats, preparing diets for each animal in the zoo and participating. animal ambassadors to programs. This experience helped me solidify my goal of becoming a zookeeper, as well as exposing myself to all the different avenues that a zookeeper entails.

“Having experience in many different fields will also help me when applying for different jobs as my knowledge is not limited. After this summer, I’m confident this is the job I want to do for the foreseeable future, and my in-depth knowledge of the ins and outs of a small zoo will help this dream come true.


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