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Zoo Academy is Life-changing

Guest blogger: Zoo Academy senior, Dominick Stowers

Hello, my name is Dominick and I am one of the most nonchalant seniors of this year. The reason I came to the Zoo Academy is it sounded like a really amazing experience that will take you far towards being the most renowned zoo keeper or director of a zoo. I came to better my education and I also have always had a real passion for animals of all sorts.

Although I have a passion for animals, I was not always allowed to explore that passion. There was always someone in my family that had a phobia of some kind of animal. My dad had a phobia of snakes and birds of all kinds. My mom and my two sisters and my little brother all have a phobia of insects and of any animal that they knew nothing about. For me, I am open to learning and handling any animal from insects to mammals to reptiles and birds. I just enjoy being around animals and the Zoo Academy gives me that chance to explore my passion.

Here I am handling a ball python

Here I am handling a ball python

The Zoo Academy is not just a high school or a place for work and no fun; that would be short selling the Zoo Academy. This program will allow a person to get their high school diploma and give them the chance to obtain experience in the field of animal care, nutrition and health. The students of this program are able to care for exotic animals that normally they could only see in television or in a movie and here at the Zoo Academy the students provide their services to help the zookeepers take great care of the animals from bathing to feeding. There is no other Zoo in the country that has a full time high school located on their premises, which makes the Cincinnati Zoo so fantastic and it is just an awesome opportunity to learn about rare and endangered animals.

Having the opportunity to work with these animals and these people is life changing. Once you have this experience, you will never look at life the same. The way that I use to view life and how I view life now is totally different. I did not know that life could be so peaceful inside a zoo with all those smells and noises. The zoo is so much more than just 70 acres of noisy and smelly animals; it is a place of peace and harmony which will change a person’s life if given the chance.

December 12, 2014   2 Comments

In The Eyes Of Another: Zoo Academy

Guest blogger: Monneka Johnson, Zoo Academy Senior

My name is Monneka and I am a student at the Zoo Academy. It’s my second year in the program and I had an amazing junior year. I plan to have a successful finish! As a senior, I am not only an example, but I consider myself a leader for the juniors.

Zoo Academy students in the classroom

Zoo Academy students in the classroom

Being a Zoo Academy student, my day isn’t just any old crazy day of doing English, math, science, or social studies. The Zoo Academy allows me to explore beyond the average high school day; it’s an ongoing adventure. I have passed several milestones to accomplishing challenges such as handling animals that I’ve never encountered, which gave me a fright at first, but in all, I achieved a personal growth goal. I have had the opportunity to handle multiple species of animals such as the blue-tongued skinks, Brazilian rainbow boas, and armadillos!

Showing one of my classmates a blue-tongued skink

Showing one of my classmates a blue-tongued skink

The blue-tongued skink, up close

The blue-tongued skink, up close

Meet the screaming hairy armadillo

Meet the screaming hairy armadillo

Here's a Brazilian rainbow boa

Here’s a Brazilian rainbow boa

We learn how to interact with visitors here at the Zoo, as well as with the staff; between the staff and my peers we’ve become a camaraderie. A “camaraderie” is a trust among friends. We engage what we know, want to know, and how we relate to one another and this is how we build a camaraderie. We show that we take pride in contributing to the Cincinnati Zoo mission statement every day by putting on our uniforms and making sure our tasks get done efficiently and safe.

Some of my classmates meeting a macaw at the Bird House

Some of my classmates meeting a macaw at the Bird House

Hanging out with one of the primate keepers, Eric High

Hanging out with one of the primate keepers, Eric High

The Zoo is so engaging. There are no dull moments. We as a team enjoy the character in everyone’s attitude everyday. You’ll almost never be disappointed with an answer; our staff makes the days here at the Cincinnati Zoo interesting from all the informational facts. As a student at the Zoo, being able to learn as you work as well as interact with visitors is an awesome learning experience.

November 5, 2014   No Comments

Graduation for Zoo Academy Seniors is Just Around the Corner

Guest blogger: Markala Washington Murray, Zoo Academy Senior

Hello! It’s Markala again. Previously I talked to you about what it’s like to be a Zoo student and where you apply to become a Zoo student (read that post here). It is now the end of my senior year here at the Zoo Academy. It’s both a sad time and a happy time for all us seniors; it marks both a beginning and an end to an incredible journey and tells us that we are ready for our next adventure to begin. But before I tell you that, let me tell you where I am right now.

As seniors, we have a big project to do called a Capstone. A Capstone is a reflection on what we have done over the past two years. You pick one subject that you would like to improve in an area in your field of study. Then you write a report on your subject and create a poster. The poster is a recap of what you have learned over the senior year and how you felt you did on your overall project. Lastly, you put together a portfolio of all the things you used to help you create and improve your project.

For my project, I focused on the protection and conservation of the Mexican gray wolves. I chose this subject because of the wolves we have here at the Zoo; our wolves are unable to be reintroduced, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does have a reintroduction program to help bring the population of the Mexican gray wolves back to where they use to be about a hundred years ago. However, now that the numbers have “reached agricultural success”, they have now declared an open hunting season for the wolves.

Mexican wolves at the Zoo

Mexican wolves at the Zoo

Our wolf exhibit is in an area called Wolf Woods that doesn’t get very much attention from visitors because it’s tucked behind our train station. So this made me want to tell the story of the wolves. For my project, I created a class to teach others about the conservation of the Mexican gray wolves. I used our senior and junior classes here at the Zoo Academy. First, I gave a short lecture on all of my findings on the wolves. Then I showed a video on the open hunting season. Lastly, I had my class do a scavenger hunt in the Wolf Woods exhibit. After doing this project, I now have I much greater respect for both the people and the wolves that have to live together.

Here I'm teaching the class.

Here I’m teaching the class.

Here I am with my poster.

Here I am with my poster.

Leaving the Zoo makes me sad because I now have to leave all the great people and animals I have befriended. I am now going on to the next step in my life. I have recently been accepted in to the school for animal behavior studies and associate science at Hocking College. Hocking is a two-year institution that focuses on nature education. I can’t wait to start in the fall!

April 30, 2014   No Comments