We’re joining zoos and aquariums from across the county in the celebration of National Zookeeper Appreciation Week!
Our team of National Aquarium animal experts, including aquarists, herpetologists, aviculturists, curators, veterinarians and marine mammal trainers, have dedicated themselves to providing our living collection of more than 17,500 animals the highest possible quality of care.
In addition to providing care and enrichment for the animals, our staff members are consistently involved in research projects as well as conservation and outreach work. We are incredibly proud of the collective impact they’ve made on the lives of our guests and our local community!
This week, we’ll be introducing you to just a few of our amazing animal care staff members! They’ll be sharing favorite aquarium memories, how they got started in their respective fields and more!
July 22, 2013: Meet Kerry King-Rahm, a Herpetologist in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit!
How long have you been at the Aquarium?
I’ve been here for 5 years.
What interested you to pursue your current career path?
I have always been fascinated by animals and I’m lucky enough to have parents who supported my interests. They didn’t mind me bringing home various animals that I would find in the woods, and they gave me the responsibility of caring for our numerous pets that we had. I decided to make a career out of it and ended up going to a special college (Santa Fe College, FL) that has its own AZA-accredited zoo on campus where the students get to learn how to care for the animals as part of their courses. Over the last 12 years as a keeper, I have cared for everything from rhinos to poison darts frogs, and it’s been a great experience.
Can you briefly describe for us what your typical day looks like?
I start work at 7:30 a.m. and for the first 2 hours, I service all the exhibits before the public arrives. After that I will service the back-up areas where we house numerous frogs, feeder insect colonies, and even a roof area where some of our turtles get some summer sun. This involves feeding, cleaning, water changes, observations, medical exams and treatments. At the end of the day I do a final check on all the animals and finish up at 4:00pm.
What is your favorite Aquarium memory?
It was caring for our orphaned sloth, Xeno. The best part for me was when he was finally released into the rainforest. I made all the preparations I could to make sure that he would be okay, but there was still a small amount of uncertainty as you can’t be sure how animals are going to react in a new environment. Luckily, everything went as planned and he did well and is still doing well several years later!
What is the next big project you are working on?
We are a part of Project Golden Frog, and in the next few months, I will be attempting to breed one of our males with a new female we are getting in this summer.
What is your favorite animal?
I have a lot of favorites but if I had to pick just one, it would be tortoises. Turtles and tortoises are such fascinating creatures and are so unique to the animal kingdom. Plus, they have a lot of personality! The tortoises we have here at the aquarium will often come over to me in the mornings to get a neck scratch or to ask for breakfast!
Stay tuned to the blog this week to meet more of our amazing staff!