After the end of this fourth week, I will have my second evaluation. Every intern has his or her evaluation after every 80 hours at the zoo, and in my case that is every two weeks since I am there 40 hours per week. I am looking forward to this because I know I can only improve from the last time, and I want to see specifically how and know what I can do to keep improving. Two weeks later I expect to see an even bigger change.
This week the keepers and I talked about reptile handling, so we got to practice that with some of the more easygoing animals. We started out with the turtles, but as the week progressed, we went down the list. My favorites so far are Kate, a bearded dragon, and Toothless, a Mali uromastyx, since he is usually very calm. Another new task with reptiles included taking their temperatures at the end of the day in addition to when I would take back their food dishes. After that I would write all these temperatures for the reptiles down in the daily log book, which also lists how much each animal ate, if anything at all, and what they ate. I had been cleaning snake tanks nearly every day. Sometimes two would have to be cleaned per day, since there are eight snake tanks on display total.
I am getting better with judging how much of a food item is left so I can either write it down to be ordered, or I can either make more of it. For example, I make the joey formula after looking at the current supply and can tell that more is needed. I have also been making more repashy for the geckos, gator gel, and tree monitor meat mix.
Something that I have never done before was disinfecting the wallaby enclosure. Of course this was a strenuous task, so luckily I did not have to do it on my own. The other intern in my department and I tackled it together. We were warned it was going to take two hours, and that was a correct assumption. This procedure consists of sweeping up the leftover hay, hosing the floor and the mats, then draining the excess water, then disinfecting the floor and mats, scrubbing them, and rinsing everything all over again.
It astounded me that it took me this long to hear it, but this week was the first time I had heard one of the keepers say, “I love this job.” I thought that was really profound since I had never heard anyone say something like that. It reaffirmed how much I like the work that I do as well, but overall it made me want to work even harder.