Training the Animals in Your Life

Animal care

  • Rumley and Boudreaux sittin' in a tree

    Here's a video of the first time that Rumley and Boudreaux saw each other. Boudreaux is still contagious so he can't meet Rumley yet. You can see them both wagging their tails and then you can see Rumley turn and bark at me. He's super angry that I won't open the door for him so that he can play with Boudreaux. I'm such a mean mom :( 

    Unfortunately, we still have to wait a couple of weeks before Boudreaux is completely in the clean. Once we get these two together though, I think they will be a dynamic duo! What do you think? 

  • We've Adopted a Mangey Mutt

    Ryan and I are crazy people. We have officially adopted a mangey mutt. We've had him for a week now. His name is Beaudreaux and he appears to be a German Shepherd. Beaudreaux was found wandering the streets in Baytown and he was going to be put down if no one rescued him. I saw him on the Great Dane Rescue page, it seemed they had been smitten with him even though he's not a Great Dane. For some reason, this little guy tugged on my heartstrings.

    We went to the vet's office to pick him up and while we were waiting, they let us know that he has Sarcoptic mange. This means that he's highly contagious to our dog, Rumley, as well as to us. This has made things much more complicated than we were anticipating. The poor pup has to stay in our spare bedroom during the day and night. We put on special clothes and gloves when we go to take him out. Then, as soon as we put him back in the bedroom, we have to throw our clothes in the wash on hot and dry them on high heat.

    We have to make sure we are completely clean again before we can see Rumley. It's been 7 days since we got him and he definitely seems to be healing. We have a vet appointment next week and I hope that they tell us that he can join the family soon. I know that him and Rumley will have a blast playing together. The video shows Ryan and Beaudreaux playing fetch on Beaudreaux's first morning here. He's a sweet pup!

  • Pictures with Parrots

    Pictures with Parrots

     

     

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    The pictures above show my husband and I posing with a Macaw on our recent trip to Key West, Florida. I have to admit that I was completely against paying to have my picture taken with the bird when I first saw the man walking the streets in Key West. My first thought was that the man was exploiting the bird to make a profit and that I have worked with Macaws and couldn't possibly need to pay to spend time with one.

    I was so wrong! A friend of ours was walking with us and coerced us into posing to have our picture taken. The owner of the bird showed us his USDA license and spent at least twenty minutes with us just talking about his birds. I left thinking that these birds actually have a pretty great life compared to most parrots that are just left in a cage all day.

    This man had these parrots extremely well trained, in fact, I've never worked with a macaw (I've worked with four different individuals) that wouldn't try to bite someone at least occasionally. This bird was very calm and gladly sat on our shoulders or our heads. His owner gave him a signal and he knew how to put his beak to your cheek for the photo.

    The man also knew his birds well enough to know that one of his birds liked to be out at night, while the other got agitated at night and did much better during the day. The man would keep each bird out for a couple of hours and then switch it out for some rest.

    With these birds being this man's major source of income he most likely took very good care of them. The fact that the birds get so much socialization and see so much activity in a day has to make for a better life than being stuck in a cage somewhere.

    The man charged $15 for his time (I paid him $20 but probably would have paid him more if I had any more cash on me) and it was well worth it. He is able to educate people about parrots all day.

    I know that there are plenty of people out there that would be completely against something like this but I just wanted to share that you should probably look into something before you judge.

  • The Cost of Working with Animals

    Today's post was inspired by an article written by David Segal for the New York Times. This article is long but it contains a lot of valuable information for those considering becoming a vet. Click here for the full article.

    I think that it is is extremely sad that anyone that wants to work with animals gets paid so little. The cost of becoming a vet is extremely high while the starting salaries are relatively average for the general work force. DVMs are coming out of school with their debt to income ratio at 3:1. That is insane.

    Photo courtesy of wikicommons

    In the article, Segal states that the need for vets is declining in this country. While there are communities that are in desperate need of vets, most of the people in those communities are unable to afford vet care. A vet can see a need in a small, rural community and move there to open a practice, only to find out that the people coming to see them cannot afford to pay. I'm sure that the vet wants to help and offer their services for free, but with student loan debt approaching $300,000, they are not really in a position to do so. This reminds me of the book Water for Elephants, when the main character is left with nothing after his parents die because his dad was a vet and had been accepting vegetables from people's gardens for payment.

    I think there needs to be a total overhaul of all animal related jobs. Choosing to work with animals should not be a financial death sentence. Sure, you can choose not to go to school and try to get a job working at a zoo (not as a vet) but most job postings nowadays specify that a bachelor's degree is preferred and desired. With the amount of competition for all zoo jobs, it might take a while to land a zoo job without a degree. The reality is that most zoo professionals are highly educated, highly skilled individuals. Long gone are the days when zookeepers were all burly men hired only to do physical labor. The zookeeping profession now involves daily animal training, enrichment and behavioural studies as well as knowing the warning signs of animal illnesses.

    If you are able to come out of school with no debt then you can probably survive on these salaries. I know that people with debt still survive on these salaries but they often have credit collectors knocking on their door. Personally, I don't want to just survive, I want to get ahead and therefore had to leave the zoo profession, at least until I get my student loans paid off. People working with animals either need to be paid more or there needs to be more education about not taking out student loans for school. Something has got to change.

  • How to Weigh Your Animals with Little Stress

    Weight is often the best indicator of health in an animal. In some species, you will notice a change in their weight way before you notice that they aren't eating as much as they used to. A primary reason for a change in appetite or weight is usually some sort of health issue.

    So how do you weigh a porcupine for example? How do you weigh an 800 pound steer? This is an example of a husbandry behavior. You are training the animal to participate in their own health care so that there is as little stress to them as possible. You want for standing on a scale to become an everyday habit.

    Let's start with the porcupine. This is actually a multi-step process that I am going to speed through. First of all you need a large scale, but even when you have a large scale it is difficult to ensure that the porcupine is all the way on the scale everytime. You need something on the scale that the porcupine can stand on. We have found that a large dog carrier works well. You put the kennel on the scale and ask the porcupine to step into it. Then subtract the weight of the kennel from the weight of the porcupine in the kennel equals weight of porcupine. Obviously you first have to get the porcupine used to going into the kennel before you ever place it on the scale. You can do this by placing its food inside the kennel for several weeks. Don't mess with the kennel once the porcupine is inside. Let it learn that no harm comes to it while it is in the kennel.

    In the image below, the kennel is sitting on the scale and the porcupine is about to crawl into it. 

    You can also train a steer to walk on a large piece of plywood that is placed over a scale. The steer will most likely be afraid of the large dark thing on the ground. First just place the plywood in the enclosure for several days (make sure to give the animal plenty of room to get away if it wants to). After a few days you can start to throw a few bites of bread on the plywood so that the animal has to touch the plywood to eat it. It will start to learn that nothing bad happens when it is near the plywood. Ask the animal to step on the plywood by targeting over the wood. Step by step the steer will learn that nothing bad happens when it steps on the plywood. You can place the scale under the plywood and make it a daily routine to step on the plywood.

    Watch the video below to see an example of scale training.

     

    Scale Training with a Miniature Zebu Steer from Brittany Mead on Vimeo.

    The steer in the video above was terrified of the plywood. It took several weeks for him to even go near it or to go in the stall with it. The video above shows tremendous progress where he is ready for us to place the scale under the plywood and weigh him.

  • Rhino Knockdown

    To continue with out Rhino theme, let's talk about the Rhino knock down that I got to participate in while I was at Fossil Rim. This particular Rhino had stopped eating and he needed a full body work-up to try to determine the cause. This had to be scheduled before the park opened for the day and it required almost everyone on staff to come assist in some way. They used a tranquilizer gun to put him under and then he had his temperature taken, blood drawn, mouth, ears, feet and eyes checked as well as x-rays. Here are some images below. 

    The other Rhinos are concerned at first and all gather at the fence to find out what is going on. 

    It takes a LOT of cable to get electricity way out here

    He is knocked down and the tarp is lifted up to keep the sun off of him so that he does not overheat

    Taking the temperature of a Rhino. How did you think she would take it? 

    His eyes are covered simply to keep the sun out of his eyes

    How many people does it take to roll a Rhino over? 

    It's a good thing that we rolled him over because the problem was found. If you look at the top of his leg (where his armpit would be) you can see a sore. This sore was causing him enough pain that he stopped eating. It's not something that we ever could have seen while he was standing. 

    Treating the wound

    After cleaning the wound and a course of antibiotics he was back to perfect health! 

  • Attwater Prairie Chickens

    Have you ever heard of an Attwater Prairie Chicken? Did you know that they are highly endangered? They used to live in the plains of Texas but are almost extinct.

    Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and The Houston Zoo are both trying to save them. There also is a national conservation center outside of Houston, Texas that works to save them.

    Here are some rare photos of baby Attwater Prairie Chickens. Aren't they cute?

    The birds above are pictured in their very safe environment. They have to be kept this way because they are easily frightened and injure themselves when they go into a panic. There could be no loud noises in the prairie chicken rearing area and the keepers had to take special caution when a storm came through. The prairie chickens would start to panic and thrash around until they injured themselves. I remember the keepers being so upset when one prairie chicken somehow ingested a stick that killed him. 

    If the prairie chickens make it to adulthood, the idea is to release them to the refuge outside of Houston. They are making great strides in this area. 

  • Why Is My Dog Attacking My Other Dog?

    Dog Eat Dog?

    A friend of mine is having a problem with one of her dogs attacking her other dog. She came to me to ask why this might be happening. There are several reasons that this could be happening and I could not fully judge the situation without observing it directly so I decided to put together the top 5 reasons that this might be happening.

    First, let's observe what we know. This particular situation involves two fixed, female dogs that have lived together for most of their lives without issues. The younger dog, let's call her Sadie, has just been diagnosed with Cushing's disease and is the one doing the attacking. The older dog, Molly, seems to be an innocent bystander in all of this.

    Reason #1. My first question was to find out if the dogs were fixed. Dogs have hormones and all storts of issues that come along with not being fixed. This can cause extreme hormonal changes that affect behavior. I want to add to this that even fixed females will sometimes still fight for dominance if there is a male around.

    Reason #2. Food aggression. Food aggression can seem to come out of nowhere. Dogs that used to be perfectly happy eating side by side suddenly cannot be anywhere near each other. Perhaps this is just grumpiness from old age or perhaps one dog has decided it doesn't like the way that the other one chews with their mouth open. Who knows. In any event, there are a few ways to try to work around this. Try to seperate the animals when you feed them. Bring one dog inside and have one outside. Seperate them before you even begin to prepare the food and do not allow them back together until all food bowls have been put away for a few minutes. I suggest keeping the dog that is being attacked on her "home turf" and removing the dog that is doing the attacking. That way, the attacking dog is the one that is out of her element and is being reintroduced to the other dog after eating. I have seen dominant dogs attack more submissive dogs everytime they are brought back into their home turf, even if they only left for a few minutes.

    Let's say that the attacking doesn't seem to only occur around feeding time. Sometimes, the dogs simply know that dinner time is in a few hours and they are already jockeying for feeding position. Try bumping feeding time up a few hours without warning (still separate both dogs to feed). This way the dogs are surprised and don't have time to argue about who is going to get dinner first. After dinner, the arguments seem to calm down most of the time. Fighting just doesn't seem as important when you have a full stomach.

    Sometimes the dogs are fighting over food that isn't even theirs. If a family member is snacking, the dogs may think that is fair game and are fighting over who is allowed to beg for scraps. I suggest trying to get the family to eat at one time and in one place. For example, everyone eats dinner at the table while the dogs wait outside. No food comes out until the dogs have safely been placed outside. This may help to eliminate some bickering.

    Reason #3. The dog being attacked may be sick. Animals can often tell when other animals are sick. In the wild, they would use this as a survival tactic. They might pick off the weak, sick or injured animals so as not to attract other predators, not to be slowed down, or to get rid of another mouth to feed. Sometimes dogs do this when they can sense the other animal has an illness. This could be cancer, heart failure or any other number of things.

    Reason #4. One, or both, of the dogs may be in pain. The reasoning I offered to my friend was that Sadie simply may not be feeling good and the other dog got on her last nerve. This explanation seems silly but I do think there is truth to it. Sadie may be developing arthritus and it hurts her to be touched, she may be lashing out at Molly either to tell her to stop touching her or because she thinks that Molly is somehow causing her pain. She also may be simply expecting the pain to come and so she lashes out in advance hoping to avoid the pain.

    Reason #5. Stress. I have heard of dogs becoming more aggressive during the winter due to being kept inside more. Any number of small changes in your home could have led to stress on your dogs. Did a family member recently leave for college? Did you get a new dog bed? Have you started leaving earlier for work? All of these can be stressful to a dog and she gets release when she snaps at her neighbor. I suggest looking for these changes and trying to spend more time with the dogs, perhaps one on one. Take each one out into the yard seperately and spend some running time with them.

    These clearly are not all of the reasons that your dog could be attacking another dog but I hope they help in some way. For more information, I recommend checking out this post by Pat Miller in The Whole Dog Journal. It has some very descriptive explanations.

    Do you have experience with dogs attacking each other? What are some of the things that helped you to solve the problem?

  • Bare Eyed Cockatoos

    Bare Eyed Cockatoos

    This is Pearl and Hobo. Pearl and Hobo are Bare Eyed Cockatoos that I worked with at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Bare Eyed Cockatoos are originally from Australia and are known for acting clownish and love to interact with their owners. 

    These two cockatoos lived together and it was extremely difficult to tell them apart. We learned to tell them apart by behavior. When you came in to feed in the morning, Pearl was polite and would wait off to the side while cooing 'hello' over and over again. Hobo on the other hand, would be more in your face and was clinging to the door as it opened, ready to jump on your plate of food. You had to be prepared or Hobo would knock the pan of food over. 

    Here is a similar image as above with a closer look at Pearl instead of Hobo. Can you see many physical differences between the two? 

    When you are working with a group of animals, you may learn to distinguish them by behavior before you can distinguish them physically. This is true if you are surveying animals in the wild as well. They all have their own personalities, quirks and habits. 

  • Why I Do Not Currently Have A Dog

    I have always been a big dog person. I don’t just mean that I love dogs. I mean I have always loved BIG dogs. I spent three years in middle school and high school trying to convince my parents to let me have a Great Dane. I would print out articles about Great Danes and leave them on their pillows. I would print out signs for the refrigerator that said “Don’t get a dog. Get a GREAT dog.”

    Finally, they relented and bought me a Great Dane puppy. She was my pride and joy for a long time. We got along well and we definitely had the whole “dogs tend to look like their owners” thing going on. She was tall, thin, lanky and clumsy. I was the same.

    My Great Dane, Angel, and I. "Gig'em Aggies!"

    My Great Dane only lived to be eight years old and then passed away a couple of years ago. I thought that I wanted another dog right away but I have held off for almost three years now. Why, you may ask? I just am not home enough to justify having a dog. I couldn’t bare to think of my dog sitting at home all day alone from 7 am until 7 pm when I finally make it home.

    When I have a dog, I want it to be very well trained, well-adjusted and well socialized. I just wouldn’t be able to provide that kind of life for a dog right now. I have to wait until my schedule loosens up a little bit.

    My husband and I currently own a bearded dragon. This is a great pet for us because he doesn’t seem to mind being left alone all day. In fact, I’m almost positive that he enjoys it. His favorite thing to do is to lounge in his hammock all day. He tolerates us when we get home and will sit with us for a while, but I think he really is just hoping that he will get some crickets.

    Another good thing is that it is so easy to feed him. He only requires crickets a few times a week. We chop up some salads for him and then just dump in the greens early in the morning before we leave for work. As long as his lights stay on, he is good.

    If you are thinking about getting a dog I urge you to take your schedule into consideration. If you aren’t around to train your dog and to get their energy out during the day then you have a big possibility of having a dog that becomes difficult in one way or another.

    What about you? Have you ever put off getting a dog until your schedule cleared up?

  • What Is A Husbandry Behavior?

    A husbandry behavior means that the animal is trained to participate in their own health care and well-being. An example of this might be an elephant that is trained to stand against a fence and present the equivalent of their underarm, for blood sampling. Elephants are also sometimes asked to place their feet on a special platform so that keepers can work on their feet and toe nails. You can ask an animal to stand on a scale rather than forcing it onto one. Lions can be trained to open their mouth wide so that a vet can peer into their mouth and check their teeth.

    The purpose of husbandry behaviors is to keep the animal from getting stressed. If the animal is used to crawling on a scale every day then it will not be stressed when you ask it to do the same when the vets need a weight.

  • Ultrasound Training with a Porcupine

    To follow up on the post about stationing, I will fill you in on why we wanted this particular porcupine to crawl to a certain point on the fence. This porcupine lived in an exhibit with a male porcupine and occassionaly she became pregnant. Before this training, we did not have an easy way of monitoring if and when she was pregnant, much less have a way to monitor the development of the baby.

    We began to train her to climb to a certain point on the fence where we had cut out a small portion of the fence so that an ultrasound could be used to examine her belly. The vets could be on the outside of the fence, open the cut away portion of the fence and check her belly while we kept her busy with treats. In this image, you will see me reaching over and touching her belly so that she could get used to it. As the weeks of training went on, she was rewarded for staying on the fence a little bit longer each time.

    Touching her belly to get her used to the feeling so that she will be prepared for an ultrasound.

    Sometimes the male porcupine would interrupt and want a treat too.

    Training this kind of behavior is called a husbandry behavior. The animal is being trained to participate in their own care. This is much less stressful for the animal.

    All of this training was so that we could enjoy little cuties like this one.

    Have you ever heard of ultrasound training a porcupine? Have you ever participated in an endeavor like this one? I would love to hear about it!

  • Can a neck collar hurt your dog?

    I have to admit that I never gave this subject much thought until I came across this post by Emily Larlham on her blog, Dogmantics Dog Training Blog. I think that her reasoning is very sound and it will definitely make you think.

    Photo courtesy of Elf/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    I can remember having dogs in my youth that pulled on the leash horribly. These dogs also ended up having major thyroid issues. Could the leash pulling and the thyroid issues be related? Emily Larlham thinks that they can. She points out that a dog's neck is built much the same as a human's neck, and I can't imagine putting a collar around a human's neck.

    In the future, I will use a well made harness for my dogs. What do you think? Will you switch over to a harness or continue to use a collar?

  • What is a Bridge?

    Training Terms- Bridge

    In training terms, a bridge is a word or signal used to reward an animal when you cannot immediately give them their physical reward. For example, when a dolphin does a flip in the middle of the pool, the trainer cannot give them their fish right away. To let the dolphin know that they have done a good job, the trainer gives another signal, such as a whistle, to let the animal know that they have succeeded. The animal then knows that they can return to the trainer for their reward.

    This can work the same way with an animal at home. When you ask your dog to roll over, you can use the term "good" to let them know that they have completed the task to your satisfaction. The animal will know that they can return to you for their reward, whether that be a treat or a loving pat.

  • Chinchilla Love

    I love Chinchillas. I worked with several during my time at the zoo and after I left the zoo I rescued one. Chinchillas are interesting animals. They come from high up in the Andes Mountains where it is extremely cold. Because of the extreme cold, they have super think fur which causes their coat to be extremely soft. A chinchilla has 30 hairs per one hair follicle. Where we have one hair come out, they have 30. Can you imagine that? Their coat is so thick that they cannot get wet because they would be unable to dry out. Chinchillas that get wet have been known to grow mold and mildew in their coats. 

    How do they get clean, you ask? Chinchillas take dust baths. This specialized dust removes the oil in the fur which in turn removes any dirt. At the zoo we used diatenacious earth for our chinchillas to roll around in. Chinchillas need this dust bath at least three times per week. You don't want to leave the dust in their enclosure all the time because they can use it too much and dry out their skin. 

    In the wild, chinchillas live in dins in the ground, they would dig out a small cave in the dirt so that they can stay dry. If you have one in captivity, it is necessary to provide places for them to hide in their environment. They like to feel secluded and protected. They also like to climb and jump so be sure to put something like a lava ledge in their home. Chinchilas can jump over six feet high.

    Chinchillas are members of the rodent family which means that they are closely related to rabbits, squirrels and guinea pigs. As such, their teeth grow constantly so they always need a supply of chew toys to keep their teeth in check. 

    Chinchilla droppings are dry pellets that look similar to mouse droppings. A male chinchilla can spray its urine outside of its cage so you need to be prepared for that if you plan to have them in your home. 

    Chinchillas have a sensitive digestive tract and need a specialized diet. They cannot process fatty foods. Chinchillas need a high quality chinchilla diet. I reccomend Mazuri chinchilla diet due to its balanced nutrition. I recommend ordering a large bag of this and keeping it in an air-tight plastic container. This food is much better than the foods you will have access to at places like Petsmart and Petco. A chinchilla will also need hay. At the zoo, we fed a handful of coastal hay every day but you probably will only have access to timothy hay at pet stores. This will be ok. Make sure that the chinchillas get a fresh handfull of hay every day. The hay is very important for their digestive tract and keeps things moving. 

    One thing you want to be careful of when feeding chinchillas is giving them a food with too many treats in it. Most chinchilla foods found in pet stores have seeds, dried fruit or colorful pelets in them. A chinchilla is smart enough to go through and pick out all of the pieces that they like and leave the rest. This is terrible for your pet because then they are not getting balanced nutrition. Make sure to give them a balanced diet like the one outlined above. If you want to give them a treat, I recommend plain cheerios. Do not give them the honey-nut kind, this is too sweet for them. They love plain cheerios and will hold them in their hand like a little donut while they eat them. 

    People are always surprised at how soft they are when they first touch a chinchilla. Their fur is so soft that it feels like silk. People may want to cuddle the chinchilla and hold it close to them but this can cause the chinchilla to overheat very easily. A chinchilla can also overheat if the air conditioner goes out in your home. The max temperature that a chinchilla should be kept in is 74 degrees. This is something to consider if you want to have one as a pet. 

    I could go on and on about chinchilla care and there is much that I did not put in this post. Please contact me at BrittanyMichelleMartin@yahoo.com if you have questions. I am always happy to answer them. 

  • Species and Breeds I have Worked With

    1. Boer goats
    2. Afrian pygmy goats
    3. Nigerian dwarf goats
    4. Nubian goats
    5. St. Croix sheep
    6. Babydoll sheep
    7. Domestic rabbits
    8. Dwarf rabbits
    9. Flemish giant rabbits
    10. Chickens and roosters
    11. Cochin chickens
    12. Polish chickens
    13. Jungle fowl
    14. Ocelot
    15. Texas tortoises
    16. African Spurred tortoises
    17. Bare-eyed cockatoos
    18. Molunccan cockatoos
    19. Eclectus parrots
    20. Blue and gold macaws
    21. Chinchillas
    22. African hedgeog
    23. Ferrets
    24. Silky-feathered dove
    25. White-winged dove
    26. Pink headed dove
    27. African grey parrot
    28. Senegal parrot
    29. North American porcupine
    30. Indian runner ducks
    31. Toulouse goose
    32. Rouen duck
    33. Eastern screech owl
    34. American kestrel
    35. Harris hawk
    36. Bald eagle
    37. White tail deer
    38. American turkey
    39. Raccoons
    40. Miniature zebu
    41. Llamas
    42. Guinea hogs
    43. Tarantula
    44. Vinagaroom
    45. Tailless whip scorpion
    46. Red-legged tortoises
    47. Box turtles
    48. Bearded dragons
    49. Black and white tegu
    50. Red tegu
    51. Blue-tongued skink
    52. American alligator juveniles
    53. San Esteban island chuckwalla
    54. Greater plated lizard
    55. American crow
    56. Uromastyx
    57. White's tree frogs
    58. East Asian toad
    59. Houston toad
    60. Hogg Island boa
    61. Ball python
    62. Louisiana pine snake
    63. Milk snake
    64. Prairie kingsnake
    65. Speckled kingsnake
    66. Eastern rat snake
    67. Pancake tortoise
    68. Kenyan sand boa
    69. Glossy snake
    70. Lorikeets
    71. American Quarter-horses
    72. Domestic dog
    73. Domestic cat
  • How Did I Get Here?

    My credibility- If I'm going to write about animals and animal training, I figured I should share with you where I am getting my experience from.

    First of all I have always had a passion for animals and have soaked up every bit of knowledge about them I could get since I was a young girl.

    I attended Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and graduated with a Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences degree. During my time there I was lucky enough to take lots of interesting classes about animals. A few of these were animal behavior, entomology, ornithology, ichthyology, natural history of the invertebrates, natural history of the vertebrates. Through these classes I got to meet with many interesting professionals in the animal field. For example, one time we got to watch a horse trainer that trains his young horses to sit in his lap while he sits on a bean bag chair. Strange and I can’t see how that turns out well once the horse is more than a few months old and used to sitting on his lap.

    After graduating I participated in the Walt Disney college program and moved to Florida for six months. I got to meet many more animal professionals here and had meetings with several of the animal keepers at Animal Kingdom. I also because an aviary volunteer for the Brevard County Zoo while I was there.

    Immediately after this, I returned to Texas for an internship with Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. I worked in the Children's Animal Center as an animal caretaker. There was only one other woman who worked with me so I ran the center completely on my own for two days out of every week. The animals I worked with here included goats, parrots, an ocelot, and more (see complete species list). Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is an amazing place where the humans are the ones confined. You get to drive through this huge safari park and have animals poke their heads in your car while you feed them. This was an amazing experience. However, Glen Rose was a little too small of a town for me so next I moved to Houston.

    I worked at the Houston Zoo as a zookeeper in the Children's Zoo. This experience allowed me the opportunity to work with dozens of species. I was responsible for daily care, feeding, diet preparation, enrichment, cleaning and training of animals. I also got to participate in daily outreach stage shows and training demonstrations for the public. In my primary area I was responsible for packing up our animals to go out on educational programs. While at the Houston Zoo, I trained North American Porcupines, a miniature zebu steer and a Nigerian Dwarf goat. Again, refer to my species list for a full list of all species I have worked with. See my Houston Zookeeper bio here. (Keep in mind it uses my maiden name)

    While I loved my job at the zoo, I unfortunately could not stay there forever due to my need to pay off my student loans. My second love, writing and marketing, helped me to find a position with a busy law firm in Houston. I get to learn marketing and event planning while I write about and help to educate others about animals on my blog. I have also volunteered at the Austin Zoo and Houston zoo during various periods.

Hi! I'm Brittany and I started this blog to share my love of animals and to try and help save them in the wild. 

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