Animal Handling

I believe that everyone has at least one irrational fear. Whether they’re heights, needles or blood everyone has one, and everyone has to face them at some point or another. When I was younger I was terrified of snakes. And spiders. Oh, and bleach (don’t ask). But now, with the help of the Maryland Zoo I have been able to conquer, some, of my fears.

Part of my internship at the Animal Embassy in the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore involves animal handling. The animals kept at the Embassy as used for educational purposes and are used to contact with humans. The remaining animals in the zoo are certainly not accustomed to being handled by people.  There are four levels of animal handling, with each animal being assigned to a level based on difficulty. So the African black-footed penguins are level four, whereas the hissing cockroaches are level one. I’m proud to say that I’ve begun training on level three animals, which include our Eastern Screech Owls, Chinese Alligator, Boa Constrictor and the Kookaburra.

When I took the level two animal handling test, my mother recoiled at the idea of me working with a Corn Snake and Ball Python, while she was very pleased to hear about the Giant Flemish Rabbits. Ten years ago, I would have never thought about being ten feet close to a snake, much less having one on my arm. It’s funny to think that I’d be using bleach, holding snakes, and being in awe of spiders now. I’m glad I’ve overcome some of my fears at this internship while just…doing my job. However, I don’t believe I’ll have the opportunity to get over acrophobia at the zoo anytime soon.

Til next time,

Marykate

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    • Erin Reichert
    • August 17th, 2010

    Marykate, I’m excited to hear more about your internship when you are back in Fort Collins. And I definitely will ask you about your former bleach fear!

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