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Diaz shares her love of animals at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Thu, Feb 7, 2013

One on One

Jennifer Diaz always knew she wanted to work with animals. With that in mind, she studied wildlife biology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

An internship with Disney in Orlando, Fla. gave her a glimpse into some of the different ways she could work with animals. Since then, the 31-year-old Rampart High School graduate has been passionate about sharing her love and knowledge of animals with anyone who is interested.

Her passion brought her home to Colorado Springs in 2012 when she started working in the Loft at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Tell us about what you do at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

I work with the education animal collection. All the animals in the Loft are our animal ambassadors. Their job is to show people how wonderful animals and nature can be, and hopefully inspire them to go home and take action to help protect the environment. In my area we welcome kids of all ages and I try to create a connection with our animals for every person who comes into the building.

How did you find your way to being an animal keeper?

I always knew I wanted to work with animals. It was just a matter of narrowing it down to an actual career. I got a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology and really got my start as an education intern at a zoo in Florida. After my internship, I was able to get a full-time job on the education team and eventually moved on to keeping.

How did you end up in Colorado Springs and what will make you stay?

After moving around a lot as a kid (Air Force brat), my father retired here in Colorado Springs and I spent seventh grade through high school here. While I loved my time living and working in Florida, I knew I never wanted to settle down in a place like Orlando. I missed the mountains and my family. I was lucky enough to get my dream job working with both education and animals right here, and I couldn’t be happier.

What do you like about working with animals?

My favorite thing about working with animals is getting to know their personalities. Most people think all cats, dogs, etc. are the same, but each animal I work with is an individual, even the reptiles and amphibians. Some of the animals here were very easy to get to know, but others like the parrot and raven took me several months before I really felt like I understood them.

What do you like about working in education?

The best part about working in education is sharing my knowledge and love of animals, nature, and science with the people I meet. It makes my day when I finish telling someone about a certain animal and they say, “Wow, I had no idea! I’m so glad we came in here. I can’t wait to tell — — — — — .” It sounds cheesy, but I hear it all the time and I love it!

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