Big Cat Love

Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique ability opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

claudiaI’m a born and raised California girl who fell in love with the animal kingdom from a very young age. Growing up in San Diego, I was easily drawn in by the spectacle of the San Diego Zoo, and having that access only encouraged my love for animals to grow stronger. Just talk to me about animals and you’ve won my heart! I love all different species, but my favorites are lions, tigers, leopards and cheetahs because while they are dangerous predators it’s so easy to see both their grace and fierceness at the same time.

I’m a lover of good jokes, hot tea, and cheeseburgers. After playing indoor volleyball competitively for three years, I now play mostly on the beach for fun. Let me just say there is no place more relaxing than the beach. In an ideal world, I would love to be at the beach every day taking pictures, soaking up the sun, and swimming in the salty waves.

As a senior in high school, I’m getting ready to graduate and embark on the next chapter of my life. My dream is to be involved with a Species Survival Plan for a big cat species. Species Survival Plans are zoo breeding programs for endangered species which closely look at the genetics of individual animals to ensure the health and genetic diversity of species bred in managed care. Since I was very young I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and a lot of people say I’m lucky to have that certainty. I’ve always been drawn to the conservation of endangered species and the reproductive science behind it. Every year another animal is added to the endangered species list, or they disappear all together, so life for them is very precious.

I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity and I’m excited that this internship will give me a chance to explore the many different careers at the Zoo before I head off to college.

InternQuest, Winter 2015