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Zoo Interns, Making A Difference!


The Belize Zoo has been running a successful intern program for over seven years.  Men and women from Belize as well as from other parts of the planet, including England, Canada, Iceland and the United States, have taken part in an energetic and productive zoo learning experience.  Since the minimum time an intern can stay is two weeks, important methods of animal management are learned due to a rigorous routine-critter-care program.

Sometimes, baby animals arrive to the zoo and require diligent care.  Needing more attention than their mature relatives, the youngsters are assigned to an intern so that the critter receives good amounts of TLC, and the intern has the unique experience of providing care for an immature wild animal.  The result is a happy baby beast and a thrilled intern.  Recently, Katie, a talented young lady, returned to the zoo.  Having had a superb zoo intern experience a few years ago, she decided to come back and undertake a second internship.    We asked Katie to watch over a special new arrival.

“Ari” a baby collared peccary, recently found his way to The Belize Zoo and has quickly become good friends with intern Katie.  Needing to be bottle-fed for a while, Katie saw that “Ari” would receive his much-loved bottle and then progress to eating bits of fruit and other peccary-mouthwatering delights.  However, as with most of the orphaned or rehab animals which make their way to the zoo, “Ari” is a big fan of being on the receiving end of hugs and attention.   When it comes time for Katie to leave and return to her teaching job in the United States, zoo staff will fill in and see that “Ari” lives in a world that is a caring one.  Intern Katie has paved the way for “Ari” the peccary to become a friendly and well-adjusted animal.  And he will undoubtedly assimilate well into the collared peccary pack living at the zoo. 

Interns also assist with zoo maintenance, and learn the mechanics behind keeping a zoological garden fit and attractive.  These grounds-keeping activities also give the interns opportunities to interact with the public, sharing with our visitors natural history information about special zoo residents.

The Belize Zoo is proud that our intern program is often used as a stepping-stone for participants seeking a career in veterinary medicine.  Competition for entry into vet school is rigorous.  And with a background of a structured Belize Zoo internship program, hopeful students stand a better chance of vet school acceptance.

It is most definitely one of those “win-win” situations.   Happy and well-cared for animals, and satisfied interns, a combination that truly rocks!

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