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Claire Grosvenor talks about her internship with Animal Wonders. "I thought I'd just be feeding and cleaning, but there's a lot more that goes into it than that."

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Hi, I'm Claire Grosvenor. Welcome to Animal Wonders. I'm filling in for Jessi today because I'm the intern here.


Alright, so I know some of you folks out there are wondering how you become an intern at Animal Wonders. So, for me it was something I kind of just stumbled upon. I go to college here at the University of Montana, and this summer I was doing an internship in Washington working with wildlife, and I loved it so much, I knew that when I came back for school I was going to have to continue working with wildlife. So, I kind of came across it on the internet when I was doing some research and I didn't know how I had never heard of it before, 'cause it's just an awesome place that is very unique to Montana. So, once I figured it out, I decided to apply. Well, firstly I just emailed Jessi and said "Hey, I want to volunteer, I want to intern", and it happened to be the exact weekend that she was setting up interviews with other possible candidates. It just was awesome timing, I guess. So then I came out for an interview after filling out an application and signing an agreement and everything like that. So I came out, did my interview, fell in love with the place and then waited a couple days anxiously, and finally Jessi called me and said I got the internship, so I was really excited.

Mainly I thought that I would just be involved in feeding the animals, just their general care, which for me was great, because that's something I'm really interested in, just the husbandry side of things, but there's also so many other sides to this internship. Another big one is public speaking, so we get to go do presentations, birthday parties, shows, things like that where we go out to the public, and we bring the animals and we get to teach a wide variety of ages about the wildlife we have, conservation, like general pet care even, so that's been really good practise for me 'cause I have an interest in becoming a teacher as well.

There's also training, something I knew absolutely nothing about. I mean, I trained my dog how to sit and that's as far as I've gotten in life. But Jessi has been teaching me all about training and not only how to go about it but all the terms that go with it. So sometimes when I'm here it does feel a little bit like school but I'm learning a lot and it's very applicable. And other than that there's also, you know, a little bit of veterinary work that goes into it. We have to give medication, understand how it's affecting the animal and know how to alter the diet. So yeah, like I said, I thought it would just be feeding and cleaning but there's a lot more to it than that.

So one of the really unique things about being an intern here at Animal Wonders is it's not focused on just one species. There are so many animals here that I have never, some of them I've never even heard of honestly, and other one's I definitely haven't worked with so being here has been an awesome opportunity because if I ever want to, you know, work in a zoo or something I'll be able to say I have the experience of working with, they have hawks, there's snakes of all kind, lizards, many different kinds of tropical birds, foxes, it's just, it's amazing the amount of species that I've gotten to learn to care for here. And so I understand how to prep a diet for each and every one of those, I understand what their behaviors like and what adjustments we need to make, you know. Certain animals we don't just put their food in a dish, we're gonna hide it throughout their enclosure so they get that behavioral enrichment and they can, you know, not be so bored 'cause an animal in the wild would be foraging or hunting all day long. So it's really been a blessing to get the opportunity to work with so many different types of species and understand how they all work.

So a typical morning here at Animal Wonders kind of starts out with some opening rounds. So we go for, go through the four Ls. So we have: lights, look, live and liquid. So basically you have to turn the lights on when you first get here and for some reptiles that's a little bit more extensive other than just flipping the switch. You have to make sure all their heat lamps are on and everything. And you're going through each enclosure making sure... You're looking at them making sure their behaviors normal, making sure they're alive which is obviously very important. And then lastly you make a note of if their water is less than half way full and then you'll go back and fill that later.

After you kind of go through the opening rounds I usually start out with feeding the birds first. I prep their diet. A lot of it is a dry diet but there's also some fruit chopping involved and some vegetables. Usually then I move on to the reptiles which involves misting and then feeding out things like cockroaches and mice so it's a little bit unique but I don't mind it, I'm sure some people would. The reptiles love it so that's what's important. Next I usually move on to the mammals which in the morning time you only feed about half of them because some of them are nocturnal so we don't need to feed them until the evening time 'cause we don't want to throw off their natural schedule or anything like that. And then next I kind of go out and feed the dogs and cats and all the other, like, domestic animals running around here.

I'd have to say that one of my favorite parts about working here is the presentations or, you know, we go and do birthday parties and for me that's really fun because I get to kind of combine my passion of animals and teaching and really get the kids excited about what I'm excited about and it's fun to see their faces light up. And, you know, it's not only like we're just showing these animals for fun, we also teach them things and teach them hopefully some valuable lessons and their parents will get involved. And it's really fun for me to have, you know, the little girl birthday party and she's the one who wants to hold the snake first or she wants to get up and close with the scorpion and I like that 'cause I'm the same way too and I think that we should appreciate all the animals and I really like being able to share that message with kids.

So that's what it's like for me to be an intern here. Thanks for letting me share my experience with you guys. That's it for me this week but tune in next week, Jessi will be back to share some more amazing facts about her animals here. Thanks.

Jessi: So you think animals are cute? Jeez internet, what have you been watching? Oh, look at him with his little face and his big eyes. OK, yeah. That's pretty cute. You're right.