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Life in the Zoo Academy

Senior Trevor Lewis takes a humorous look at his second home, the zoo academy.

Trevor Lewis, Video Editor

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Hello there, welcome to the crazy world of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Walter Scott Aquarium, we are proud to say that we are the number two zoo in the USA. We provide several resources for education within the zoo, from our thousands of signs about the animals to our Zoo Academies, engineered for all grade levels.

This is more or less the fantastic pep talk everyone is given on the first day of the zoo academy. It is presented by some sleepy-eyed executive that is required to be there to show that the “zoo cares about all of its people” as all new students stare back with blank eyes wondering when we get to pet the animals. Along with this we are given the basic rules of the zoo academy, don’t swear, don’t bleed (requires blood tests and paperwork), and don’t post anything without approval.

After the first few weeks, you start to get the feel for the routine of the Zoo Academy; go through all of your normal classes at the high school, get to the zoo, take care of your animals “DON’T PICK UP THE SCORPIONS TREVOR!”, go through your core classes at the zoo as well, and then shadowing every other day. The glorious few hours spent grueling over what you are going to do for science fair in the fast approaching march.

You do have daily responsibilities to your shadowing spot, every Monday at the aquarium, I have to climb a ladder to clean 3 protein skimmers, it collects most of the bad bacteria that circulates throughout the tanks they are attached to. The first one is attached to the shark tunnel, and the second one is attached to the coral tanks, and the last one is attached to the small shark exhibit.

As an academy student, it would benefit you to have a high tolerance to poop, all kinds of poop. I have had flamingo poop in my shoes, fish poop on almost every visible part of my body, and some of my friends investigate elephant poop to analyze nutrition. Needless to say, it’s a pretty crappy job.

Seniors Paxton Betz (Left) and Rogan Maxwell (Right) stand in the new education building on zoo grounds.

But I digress, there are plenty of things that make shadowing the best part of the day, you get to interact with the zoo keepers who teach you things that are very important to know in the zoo political system and how to maintain proper care of exotic animals.

The keepers are also crucial to being able to follow through with your full science fair project, last year they allowed me to 3D print a cast for an East African Crowned Crane and I was able to win second place in the science fair. This year the aquarists are helping me test the grip strength of the octopus.

I wish I could say that we get to pet all of the cool animals and that we get to be hands on with any cute thing we see throughout the zoo grounds, but sadly, the zoo involves lots and lots of papers. To do one experiment, it requires 3 separate papers along with full research of the topic based on peer reviewed journals. Yeah, not that fun huh?

In total, however, the zoo academy has been an amazing experience that I will never forget and I am very thankful for all of the opportunities it has provided for me. There are so many experiences that you can get nowhere else besides the Zoo Academy.

Click here to visit the Zoo website
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