ABI Success Story
Zoo & Aquarium Science
Let’s meet Rebecca! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I started my journey into the world of animal care after losing my job during the first waves of Covid — a blessing in disguise, to be honest. I’d spent a number of years post-college trying out all the jobs an English major might pursue (teaching, administration), but never finding much satisfaction or even joy in those careers. When faced with the dilemma of what new job to pursue, my sister gave me the inspiration to seek a career in animal care. After all, I’d spent years loving and caring for animals as pets, but never entertained it as a career option. When the concept of ‘zookeeper’ was brought up, however, I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh — that’s a real job. People do that. I could do that!”
After a number of google searches on what it takes to become a zookeeper, I found ABI, applied to the program and the rest is truly history. Thanks to this whole experience, I am confident in saying that I’ve found it, the thing I want to do for the rest of my life. And at my age, I view that as nothing short of a gift, not to mention a dream come true.
When I’m not at work caring for animals, I’m usually spending time with my own two little cats, writing online content for client blogs, getting lost in some fiction novel or planning the next travel adventure with my people.
How did you benefit from your experience at ABI?
ABI taught me so much about the world of animal care, from the basics of animal husbandry to where to look for enrichment ideas. Not only that, but it literally opened up a whole new world of resources, books and networking within the field that I didn’t even know existed before enrolling. I learned from interactions with students in the classes, from the coursework and textbooks, and, of course, from the dedicated teaching of the professors. I actually felt more prepared to enter the field of animal care following this certification program than I felt after graduating with a bachelors (in a completely different field).
What was your favorite course?
My favorite course was a tie between Exotic Animal Management & Conservation and Carnivore Training and Behavior. Both professors were excellent, with thorough study guides and coursework expectations. And the courses themselves were wildly fascinating.
Exotic Animal Management was the first course I took, and it offered an in-depth overview of exotic animal care that excited me for the rest of the program and the career field itself. And Carnivore Training really helped me to hone my career goal of eventually becoming an animal trainer.
How did you complete your field experience?
I looked into exotic animal internships throughout the country and was accepted at WildCat Ridge Sanctuary where I interned for three months.
What have you been doing since you graduated from ABI?
Following my internship program I was hired on as an Animal Keeper at WildCat Ridge Sanctuary. I’ve been working as a keeper there ever since, having the most incredible experience providing care for a number of domestic and wildcats, including tigers, lions and cheetahs. Jumping right into the care of exotic big cats was a dream come true and an experience I won’t soon forget.
Would you recommend ABI to others?
Oh, absolutely! In fact, anytime someone asks where I completed my certification, I point them in ABI’s direction. I can’t recommend it enough!