Tuesday, August 26, 2014
My Preparation for Zoo Shows
I first started volunteering (as a part of the World Bird Sanctuary Junior Volunteer Program) in 2007 when I was 13 years old.
I spent my first seven years volunteering at the World Bird Sanctuary’s ETC (Educational Training Center) doing pretty much anything I was told. Whether it was cleaning mews, prepping food, or doing whatever projects we had that day, I was always on it.
For the first 3 years I was always at the ETC, but when I turned 16 I was brought into a whole new world. Now able to handle birds, I was getting more into my work as a whole. Since I was able to do more with bird handling I would tag along with staff members on trips to feed and care for some of the birds on the exhibit “line” at the upper site (This is the area that is always open to the public.)
While I was there I was finally able to interact with the public. It was something new and amazing to be able to talk to people who thought what I did was incredible. I now had a whole new appreciation for what I do. But I wanted to get out more without leaving the ETC, so I volunteered to work at any special events that appeared on the calendar.
There is World Eagle Day that I always enjoyed being apart of. It gave me a chance to help out on the upper site. I got the chance to walk the “line” and answer people’s questions, and I found that to be one of my favorite things to do. It always made me feel good to help anyone out or help clarify an “old wives tale” about birds.
Whenever a new event would come along I would do anything to try and be able to lend a helping hand to the public. But there was no event quite like Open House. It gave me a chance to be at the ETC and also interact with the public--working displays, answering questions, and most of all giving tours. This gave me the chance to share the store of information that I had learned over the past seven years with guests, and they truly appreciate it.
After seven years of hard work I now know what it was all for—WBS Bird Shows that we present at zoos! That is what I have been training for most of my life--flying birds every day, hearing the “ooos” and “aaahs” from the crowd as our birds fly over their heads, and being front and center to bring the public a show like they have never seen before. Every day I get to meet hundreds of new people and a few old familiar acquaintances.
I truly feel like the bird show is where I am meant to be. I feel it’s what I am meant to do. Now I know the energy I get from performing a show will never leave me.
Submitted by Ian Wright, World Bird Sanctuary Milwaukee County Zoo Show Trainer