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Paying it Forward

May 26, 2010 | Tag(s): Husbandry
By: Dee, Aquarist at The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Gulf of Mexico Exhibit

I, like most in this field, was inspired at a young age by someone working at a zoo or aquarium. It is a gift that I hope many people receive when visiting the Audubon facilities. I’m sure at some point in everyone’s life they can remember wanting to work with dolphins or elephants. For some, this dream fades with time or with the first college level biology course; for me, it was a passion that I couldn’t shake. Daily, I feel a sense of responsibility to repay the favor to little boys and girls who visit the Aquarium and get excited about aquatic life. At the same time, I want them to have a realistic view of what they may be getting themselves into.

Cleaning exhibits, scrubbing floors, and washing dishes are not as glamorous as our feeding presentations, but they are just as important to animal care. Being an Aquarist is a smelly and exhausting job, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Visitor’s often think I’m crazy when I explain to them that with a colony of twenty-eight penguins you get twenty-eight different personalities. They also think it’s crazy that sharks and fish can have distinct personalities and habits; but they do. The animals at the Aquarium have made me laugh (or cry) every day for the last three years; and I look forward to sharing their stories with you in the weeks to come.

Mailing address: Audubon Nature Institute 6500 Magazine St. New Orleans, LA 70118
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