Cockroaches and Elephant Dung This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   One of my greatest accomplishments has been pickingup elephant droppings.

I don't really collect the feces of elephants (orany other animal, for that matter), but for some reason whenever I tell people Ivolunteer at the Phoenix Zoo, that is what they assume I do. What they do notrealize is that there is so much more to working at a zoo than picking up thedroppings of exotic animals.

I would like to clear up a misconception manyhave, which is that a zoo is a place to entertain people by showing cagedanimals. The main goals of the Phoenix Zoo, and of most zoological societies, areto preserve wildlife, to study animals and to inform people about the naturalworld around them.

I inform people about the environment and tell them whyit is important to respect the bug crawling on the ground instead of step on it.It is hard to get people to listen, let alone pay attention to what you aresaying. I have encountered more ladies than I can count who run away screaming interror at an insect I am holding. Working at the zoo has shown me how to teachpeople, even if they do not want to learn, and it is an enjoyable experience.Where else can you scare 250-pound hairy, tattooed men by showing them aMadagascar hissing cockroach? It's also great talking to and learning from myco-workers, many of whom are college students working on biologydegrees.

Although volunteering at the zoo is an entertaining experience,it is also a lot of work. I am responsible for many animals; their well-beingdepends on my taking care of them. It is a tough job to hold a snake in one handand try to keep a mob of 30 people from crowding in and hurting the animal, butit is well worth it and has been an invaluable experience I would not trade.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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