Contributors: Megan-Kate Ferguson & Wendy Rice
When it comes to dedication, Marj Barthel exemplifies the word. Marj works as a keeper in the Rhino Reserve (also called the Veldt). She is extremely committed to her team of coworkers at the Veldt, as well as her collection of animals. Her passion for her profession is evident in all that she does, and she truly embodies loyalty to her animals.
One of the more difficult aspects of the zookeeping profession is managing the many different responsibilities that require our attention on a daily basis. Regardless of the demands, Marj always puts her animals first. Because the animals cannot speak for themselves, it is essential that we keep their best interests in mind with all decision-making, and Marj accomplishes this with zeal. Marj effectively manages her daily routine to ensure that there is enough time to spend on training with her animals. She recognizes the value in training and utilizes it to not only meet the needs of the animals, but also to ensure that our guests have a memorable experience at the Zoo. By making time for extra training, Marj is able to improve the quality of life for her animals by minimizing stress and facilitating basic husbandry.
Arguably one of the most important qualities a zookeeper can have is passion. In a job where the work can be so exhausting and emotionally draining, only the keepers with true passion are able to push through the hardest days and keep on fighting the good fight. Passion and enthusiasm can be contagious, and anyone who has worked alongside of Marj can tell you first-hand how passionate she is about her animals and her work. The emotional ties she has with her animals are apparent and she very obviously loves each of the creatures in her care.
While Marj may be an introvert at heart, she pushes herself past her comfort level to deliver keeper chats and provide behind-the-scenes tours whenever it is asked of her. She is a significant part of her team and she is integral to the daily lives and care of her animals.
At the core of this profession, there must be a love of animals and a respect for wildlife. Marj absolutely represents this core value, and we are so glad to have her on our team.