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Becca C | Wildlife Extraordinaire

Becca C is a animal enthusiast who’s worked with animals her whole life. From interning at a Zoo (poop scooping included) to becoming an animal trainer, Becca’s lifestyle is interesting to say the least. Beside working with cute animals, her passion for everything furry and living is heartwarming and an inspiration to all animal lovers.

 

ActuallyMAG talks to Becca about her lifestyle, passion and of course, about animals.

 

Hi! How’s your day been?

Hello! My day has been pretty nice so far. It’s my weekend so I got to sleep in till 7A.M.

So tell us a little about your job and how you got it!

My current job is as a Wildlife Programs animal trainer at The Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, California. At Wildlife Programs we put on a twice daily show during the busy season, and also have scheduled animal encounters that happen throughout the zoo and all year round, where zoo visitors can get up close with some of our animals as we talk about them.

How I got the job is pretty much equivalent to how you’d get any job: I sent in my resume and application for the position, the people at the zoo interviewed me and contacted my references, and in the end I was lucky enough to be offered the job. It’s a small field, full of passionate and dedicated individuals who rarely leave before retirement, so there’s usually a lot of competition for full-time positions at any zoological facility of decent size and location. Getting hired somewhere usually takes a lot of patience, luck, and good qualifications.

Tell us about your lifestyle!

Let me just say this — Animal keeping and/or training is not a career that is going to land you a retirement home in Florida, unless you happen to be one of those rare well-known individuals with a tv show: Jack Hannah, Steve Irwin, etc. For the rest of us, though, it’s not something we do expecting to get paid a lot of money. It’s a choice we make because we love animals and most of us can’t imagine doing anything else.

As for my lifestyle? Perpetually broke, pretty much. But I’m happy and every day at work is interesting in some way or another.

You recently moved to The Living Desert to be a Wildlife Programs presenter. How did that happen?

I learned about the job through the AZA website, which stands for American Zoological Association. They provide the accreditation for all qualified zoos in the U.S., and also host a page for job listings in our field. At the time I was living in Washington state, but I was willing to move anywhere to get a job that I wanted. Going back to Southern California–where I’m from–has been a bonus for me. So I applied, and a week or so The Living Desert called me for a phone interview. Once they narrowed the field down, they asked me to come down for an in-person interview–most places call it a working interview. I packed all my stuff into my car, gambling that I’d get the job. I had just enough money in my bank account for gas to get me there.

Lucky for me, my gamble paid off! After I had my working interview, I found out about a week or so later that I was going to get the job. I moved in with a coworker who had some extra rooms at her apartment, and I’m staying there now.


How would you describe your relationship with animals?

I’ve always loved them–when I was a little girl, it was horses and kittens and unicorns, but it wasn’t long until my fascination expanded to encompass everything furred, feathered, scaled, tentacled, or otherwise. I used to collect animal fact sheets out of magazines like Zoobooks and Children’s National Geographic. My favorite books as a kid where things like Where the Red Fern Grows, Julie of the Wolves, Watership Down, etc. Instead of playing with Barbies, I had a huge collection of stuffed animal toys and figurines. It’s always seemed sort of inevitable to me that I would have a career that let me work with animals. Everytime I get to go to work and stare at a Golden eagle from three feet away, or play with a Fennec Fox, I feel extremely lucky that I get to be paid to do what I do. But there’s a lot of hard labor involved in it, of course.

Do you have any pets of your own?

Most recently I had two pet ferrets: Meevs and Dubu.

Sweet! Ferrets aren’t that common a pet. Why ferrets?

Why not ferrets? Really! They’re as playful as dogs and more curious than cats. They’re trouble on four legs, but they also make me laugh out loud every day. They’re wonderful, affectionate, and intelligent pets that people usually misunderstand or take for granted. Unfortunately they’re illegal to own in California, so I adopted my ferrets out to new homes before I left Washington. It broke my heart, but they went to good homes, and it was best for them anyway. Their thick fur coats don’t make them well adapted to living in the desert, so it would have been too hot for them down here.

If you could own any sort of animal, what would it be and why?

It’s so hard to choose! I love so many of them. One of the messages we have at the zoo is about responsible pet choices, and about the pitfalls and dangers of private ownership of exotic animals like tigers, or even things like parrots. I personally love birds, but even I would think twice about owning an animal that would be like having a particularly loud and destructive two-year old child. And they can live for fifty years!

But to answer your question, I would want a Red Panda. Or a Mouse Deer. The little girl in me still can’t resist adorable things!

Thanks for doing the interview! Any plans for the rest of the day?

No problem, it was fun! I’m still new in town, so I’m going to head over to the local library and apply for my library card. Maybe that sounds like a plug but it’s not–I’m just a nerd.

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