Guest Blogger: An Intern's Perspective

February 15, 2011 | Tag(s): enrichment, intern, sea otters
By: Noel, Sea Otter Trainer
Emma

This month I thought it might be interesting to hear about an intern's perspective here at the Audubon Aquarium- take it away Annie!

 

Hello everybody! 

My name is Annie and I am the sea otter intern here at the Aquarium.  I started in January and so far it has been an amazing experience.  Most recently, I was an intern at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida.  Since DRC just has Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions I was excited to see how working with a smaller animal would be different. 

 

From day one Buck and Emma stole my heart (even though I couldn’t yet tell them apart!) and it hasn’t changed since.  Working with sea otters is a lot like working with very energetic children; you have to feed them a lot and keep them entertained.  Buck and Emma have an entire room dedicated to their toys-something we call “enrichment”-and it’s up to us to put those toys together in new and interesting ways each day.  Coming up with new forms of enrichment is so important that I’m even responsible for creating something new for them by the end of my internship. 

 

Toys aren’t their only type of enrichment however.  Something even as simple as changing the training session times, which pool they are in for a session, or even which trainer they are working with is enriching for them.  One of my favorite types of enrichment is food enrichment.  Buck and Emma love clam, especially when it’s in a frozen ice treat!  We use cake molds, big plastic trays, and even those plastic cups you get during Mardi Gras!  We add some ice, water, and food coloring before we let the treats freeze.  The otters go crazy for them!  It’s so entertaining to watch them break the treats open by banging them against the windows or the rocks.  The latest ice treat we made was a heart for Valentine’s Day.  Emma was a complete show off and posed for the camera but Buck just grabbed his and broke it. 

 

Well, it’s time for me to get back to the otters but thanks for reading!  If you haven’t already, you should definitely come and see Buck and Emma, they get cuter every day!

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Hi all! Noel here again-

Thank you so much Annie for writing a bit about your day! Annie is just one of many interns we have at the Audubon Aquarium along with many volunteers. Many interns obtain college credit for their services and it's a great way to get experience in the field you want to go into. Departments that these dedicated volunteers work for range from husbandry, education, to guest services. I just want to personally take a moment to thank them all for there hard work!

Interested in learning more about volunteering? Click here.