Niabi Zoo accepting applications for junior zookeepers

Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 12:42 PM CDT
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COAL VALLEY, Ill. (KWQC) - The Niabi Zoo is accepting applications for its Junior Zookeepers, a unique hands-on summer program.

The zoo said they will be accepting 14 to 17-year-olds with a passion for animals, the environment and conservation.

“For teenagers, one of the things they’re gaining this experience is they can apply to college and put that on their college education,” said Joel Vanderbush, curator of conservation and education. “They may have grown up thinking they love animals and going to a zoo environment, they have a better understanding of what’s going on.”

After going through training the zoo said junior zookeepers will get to be animal attendants, education assistants or zoo naturalists, helping the zoo and themselves.

“It’s not just a romantic view of what’s going on until they can determine if that’s a direction they want to go into,” Vanderbush said.

The zoo said applications are due April 6, and they will accept 20 to 50 teens, depending on the number of applications. As part of the application, an essay and recommendation can be submitted online at the Niabi Zoo website.

“There’s a ton of ways to talk about the animal to the public,” Vanderbush said. “One of the parts of the zoo in addition to conservation is to talk to the public about our work. So, junior zookeepers get to play a very important role in exactly that.”

The Niabi Zoo is set to reopen to the public on April 18 and members gt a special preview on April 9.

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