UD senior Rubino spends summer interning at Philadelphia Zoo

January 5, 2012 under CANR News

Looking for a summer internship that would provide hands-on experience with a variety of different animals, University of Delaware student Gabrielle Rubino decided that she should apply to a place defined by its animal diversity: the Philadelphia Zoo.

Rubino, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources who is majoring in pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences with a minor in wildlife conservation, applied for the animal care internship through the zoo’s website after talking with an acquaintance who had interned at the zoo in the summer of 2010.

She explained that after submitting an application, writing a letter of interest and sending two letters of recommendation, officials selected her for an interview and, ultimately, the internship.

The internship lasted 11 weeks, from the end of May until the middle of August, and Rubino started her day at the zoo every morning at 8:30 a.m. She worked alongside the staff at the Children’s Zoo, and her main duties included preparing and distributing food for the animals.

Feeding a wide array of animals, ranging from ferrets and box turtles to owls, ducks and porcupines, Rubino received first hand experience on the dietary needs of diverse wildlife.

Feeding and preparing meals was not the only part of her job, however. Rubino explained that she also “learned how to maintain animal enclosures and exhibits with proper cleaning methods. I learned proper handling, crating and capture techniques for these different animals as well.”

One of the most interesting parts of her internship was learning about animal enrichment. “I learned what it meant to provide different types of enrichment for the animals such as visual, tactile and auditory enrichment,” said Rubino. “I never knew that a Senegal parrot could be so fascinated by bubbles, or that Macaws would be completely silent while watching a Disney movie.”

Rubino also got her hands dirty tidying up various animal living spaces, cleaning out the mini-horse and donkey yards, the bunny village pens and the chicken and turkey yards. Of the cleaning process, Rubino joked, “I have never spent so much time with hay in my life, nor do I hope to again.”

When it was time to take the animals out for “play time” for the public to see, Rubino had to make sure that she was sharp on the animal information so she could answer any questions that the zoo’s visitors might have. “I was always asked questions about the animal that was out for showing so I had to be very knowledgeable on all the types of animals.”

Rubino said that she “absolutely loved this internship.” She met great friends and learned fascinating information, all the while gaining hands on experience with a variety of different animals from a staff that she described as “always helpful and willing to teach.”

Although she is not 100 percent sure what she wants to do with her future, she said that she wouldn’t rule out working at a zoo because she “enjoyed every day I spent interning at the zoo.”

For those students interested in a summer internship at the Philadelphia Zoo, visit the website.

Article by Adam Thomas

Pictured are UD alumnus and benefactor Dave Plastino, center, with 2011 Plastino Scholars, from left, Lisa Russo, Allison Rogers, Chris Kerwien and Stephanie Halperin.

Allison Rogers named Plastino Scholar

May 19, 2011 under Spotlight on Success

Allison Rogers, a pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences major and wildlife conservation minor from Scarborough, Maine, has been named a Plastino Scholar.

With the Plastino Scholarship, Rogers will travel across the country–from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh to Rhode Island–spreading awareness about the world parrot crisis, an issue involving the smuggling, overcrowding and neglect of the exotic birds.

Rogers said that being named a Plastino Scholar is “very surreal; it’s hard to grasp the magnitude of an award like the Plastino Scholarship. The students I have met who have received this award are such amazing individuals, and though I’m a scholar just like them, I feel so humbled when I talk with them.”

Working with birds is nothing new for Rogers. She has raised ducks and chickens since the age of eight, and in addition to all that she learned during her time at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), she pursued various internships to gain even more hands on experience with birds.

When Rogers found out about the award, she said that she was “over the moon. I literally teared up. When you have worked so hard towards a goal such as this scholarship, to have someone say ‘We believe in you, you should pursue this dream, and we will help you’ is the most incredible feeling. It’s indescribable.”

Rogers said that she hopes other CANR students will apply for the award in the future. “I really believe that some of the brightest and best minds are in CANR. The students in CANR are really out there trying to improve our world and the environment, and I think this scholarship could be a stepping stone for those talented and creative students.”

To follow Rogers as she travels across the country, visit her blog, which she will be updating throughout the summer.

For information on all the Plastino Scholar check out UDaily >>