So, you love animals. Maybe you’ve known this your whole life, or maybe this is a recent discovery. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a career working with animals since you watched Animal Planet as a kid. You might be studiously working on your degree, or maybe you’re carving your own unique path toward a future you can be proud of. It can be hard to know where to begin. Professional opportunities might require eyebrow-raising amounts of experience, and it can feel impossible fitting volunteer work into an already busy schedule. Luckily, Zovargo’s internship program is here to help.
I joined Zovargo when I was fresh out of college and believe me, I have been there. I all-too-keenly remember what it was like to have a dream that seemed out of reach, and to be too busy keeping my head above water to pursue what I really wanted. Zovargo really did change all that for me. Since I started, I’ve seen our internship program invigorate, inspire, and create opportunities for people from all walks of life. Here’s a quick breakdown of what being an Zovargo intern is all about:
An Intern’s Responsibilities
Zovargo interns learn to present educational programs to audiences of all sizes. During this process, interns are instructed in public speaking techniques and given in-depth training sessions to refine specific skills. Interns are supported by the whole Zovargo team, constantly given constructive feedback, and encouraged at every turn. Interns also share the responsibility of caring for Zovargo’s animal ambassadors. They learn to handle and perform husbandry tasks for many different domestic and exotic species.
Presenting educational programs and caring for animal ambassadors are the two main components of an intern’s role with Zovargo. However, many minor facets enrich the experience in ways I never personally anticipated, and I’m here to share. When I started with Zovargo, I knew to expect public speaking and animal handling. I had no idea that I would eventually…
- Supervise a duck’s bath time.
- Form a personal bond with a challenging, but very special bird.
- Be on stage, with a microphone, teaching over 200 families about guinea pigs and bengal cats.
- Connect with many people who work in animal-related fields, from zoo keepers to people who train dolphins for the government.
- Hold a 28 pound snake.
- Teach children the word “detritivore” in a way that makes sense to them.
- Take tortoises to new enriching places and supervise play time. Watch them learn about leaves and bushes and get to really stretch their little legs.
- Lead students on a nature walk and teach them the names of different native plants and animals.
- Learn the smells and textures of so many different kinds of animal poop. This one isn’t glamorous, but working with animals often isn’t. Zovargo interns understand this, and aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty.
…And I could go on and on. The Zovargo internship offers people the opportunity to work with animals while developing valuable skills that do more than just look great on a resume´(which they definitely do). The skills I’ve learned have made me a more well-rounded, confident, and capable person. Also, the experiences I listed above are just my personal highlights; every intern channels their own personality and style into their role as an educator and keeper. If you are passionate about animals, authentic in who you are as a person, and willing to work hard, Zovargo will provide the training necessary to become a skilled member of the team!
What separates the internship program from a volunteer opportunity is professional development. Zovargo is run by people who are always innovating, always striving to create a better program. We offer tools and techniques learned through Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) workshops, corporate conferences, the National Association for Interpretation, and many more including years of tangible experience working with animals and children. The internship program is Zovargo’s way of creating well-schooled professionals, ready to go out and make the world a better place…and that doesn’t always involve leaving Zovargo! We do offer opportunities for advancement and are always seeking to grow our team.
“I worked with Zovargo as an Animal Educator Intern and I can honestly say it was one of the BEST experiences I have had since I moved to San Diego. Zovargo not only provided me with new knowledge on animals I had never worked with, but sparked my passions for critters I never knew I could love (Grace!). Amanda and Larry provided such great materials for their interns, allowing us to be fluent in animal behavior and education while we were presenting. They allowed us to be independent on stage but always reassuring us they were there to back us up. Creating connections with Leo, Chico, Baby Bird, and even the cockroaches only affirmed what I have always believed to be true about animals: their hearts are purer than gold. Did you know cockroaches can have personalities? I learned that from experience! Being with Zovargo made me feel like a part of something greater in my community and I am forever thankful for the time I spent with them.”
-Juliana Henao, Senior Educator 2016-2017
See more testimonials, as well as the full internship description on our Internship page!