Welcome to Hayleigh, AAPs new co-op student!

The Adopt-A-Pond Team is very excited to welcome Hayleigh from Dunbarton Highschool. Hayleigh has been working hard to care for the hatchling and juvenile turtles as part of our headstart project, and tracking the juveniles who have already been released! She cares deeply about the environment, is quite adventurous, has lived in 4 different countries, traveled extensively, and she’s gone waterfall diving! Now, to hear from Hayleigh about her experience so far:

“My name is Hayleigh Heeraman and I am a co-op student here at the Toronto Zoo. I currently attend Dunbarton Highschool and I’m in grade 11.

When choosing my placement I had no I idea what I wanted to do. However, I did know that I was passionate in conserving the environment and that I love animals, so my co-op teacher suggested a placement at the zoo to work with turtles. I decided to do it and I’m glad I did.


Here is Hayleigh, ready for a day of turtle-tracking in the field!


I’ve only been here for a few days but so far my experience has been amazing. Of course I was nervous at first, but everyone at the zoo is very kind and friendly. The people are not only friendly, but Captain Sunshine the outreach turtle is too! I get to help feed and change the water of Captain Sunshine, as well as the hatchling turtles that are super adorable. In addition, I get to do field work, which is one of my favorite tasks. I assisted in tracking turtles by recording notes.  I also went turtle trapping and saw one of the team members put a tracker in a painter turtle. You get too see some pretty cool stuff here at the zoo! I even got to see a kangaroo, who hurt his knee, get prepped for surgery.

Mr. Grumps.jpg

This is a photo of Captain Sunshine, a Blanding’s turtle who acts as an Education Ambassador for his species.


I’ve learnt and seen a lot in the few days I have been here.  I’ve learnt the basics of turtle care. As well as how to track turtles and identify if their male or female. Also, a fun fact is that turtles actually have really long necks that help them flip over when they’re on their back. I not only learned about turtles but a lot about myself. When I first started I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue. Now I know that I definitely want to work with animals and possibly major in environmental science in university.

I’m look forward to spending the rest of my semester here, learning more about the amazing things the zoo does to conserve the environment and save various wildlife species. I’m also very grateful that zoo has allowed me to be a co-op student here and take part in this life changing experience!”

Thank you, Hayleigh, for all of your hard work so far. We are looking forward to continuing to work with you for the rest of this semester!