A neuroscience major interested in working in a zoo, Sidney Sipes ’21 had the opportunity to see firsthand what that job might entail as an animal care intern with Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Mass.
This summer, she worked with tortoises, kangaroos, porcupines, prairie dogs, wallabies and all of the zoo’s primate species, which she is particularly interested in.
“I enjoy working with primates because I feel more of a connection with them. Coming up with enrichment ideas is more fun and creative because many of them are smart enough to figure out a lot of the puzzles,” Sipes said. ““I got to try more creative enrichment, like having some of our primates ‘paint’ on a canvas by playing with our painting apparatus for a food reward.”
She learned about behavior, diet and enrichment for many exotic species and said the internship was great preparation for her planned career as a keeper or animal trainer.
“During my time there, I got to watch my supervisor hand-raise a Patagonian cavy. It was exciting to see her adapt to her enclosure when we finally got to wean her and put her out with the other cavys,” Sipes said. “I also got to practice animal training by working with the ring-tailed lemurs on crate training. This will hopefully help them transition to their winter enclosure more easily.”