My Co-op experience at the Toronto Zoo – by Kylie Riches

My name is Kylie Riches and I have been a Co-op student here at the Zoo since February. I go to Dunbarton High School in Pickering, ON. These past few months have been a great experience that I am so grateful for.

If you had asked me back in September of 2018 where my placement would be, I would say at a retirement home. Then one day, I got offered a spot at the Zoo, and how could I pass that up? That was one of the best decisions I have made for my future.

I have learned so much from being here. Most people think that the only thing that goes on at the Zoo is animal care, myself included (up until February). First of all, there are so many departments and options for employment here; it really has it all from business jobs (such as accounting) to the trades (such as carpentry). It has really opened my eyes to all the opportunities for jobs that are out there.

I have experienced a few of these fields. The main one would be animal care as I look after the Blanding’s and Wood Turtles as well as the Mississippi Gopher Frogs. I get to clean and replace their water as well as feed them on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In addition, I also get to experience scientific work. Every day, the water and hotspot temperature and humidity must be recorded for research purposes. Also, the turtles get weighed every month. Finally, I get to experience the business aspects of this establishment as I help create banners, write blogs and monitor the FrogWatch citizen science data that comes from the public.

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This placement has taught me lots about how important it is to pay attention to detail as the lives of animals are in my hands. It has also made me appreciate the Zoo and how much work for conservation they actually do. They have programs such as Adopt-A-Pond dedicated to raising conservation awareness and doing actual field work. They are a huge part of why several species are still alive in this area of Ontario today.

I would recommend this co-op strongly to anyone who likes to work with their hands and be up on their feet most of the time. Also, to someone who likes animals and cares about the problems in our environment.

I am so thankful that I was chosen to take part in this once in a life experience and for everything the Zoo has to offer.

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