THE WORKING LIFE ‌ Kelly Reno 

Anteaters, Otters, & Turtles, Oh My!

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"During high school and college I interned for the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. That's where my experience with animals began. Before I moved to Charleston, I worked as a zookeeper at the Miami Zoo. When I came to Charleston I fell in love with the city and the Aquarium.

"Here at the Aquarium I primarily work with two North American river otters, Ace and Stono (named after the Stono River), and our anteater, Mya.

"The first thing I do every day when I come in to work is talk to the otters. If I'm having a bad morning, when I see them running around and excited to see me, my day just gets better.

"My job here is to provide animal care and enrichment, which means making sure the animals have a normal life in captivity. My function is to make sure the mammals are happy and healthy. We try to get the animals to do things so we can better do our jobs, like getting an otter to stand on its back legs so we can listen to its heart and lungs.

"The biggest challenge is keeping the animals busy throughout the day. We give them spices and perfumes a lot of times to get their senses going, or freeze their food in ice blocks, kinda like popsicles, that they can play with in the water. They have a lot of toys, too, like slides and stuffed animals.

"There are definitely some aspects of this job that aren't so glamorous. There's a lot of play time and socializing but there's a lot of cleaning, too. It's not a bad trade-off, though.

"The aquarium is a very tight-knit family, and Charleston is a great place. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the animals happy and seeing people interact with them." —as told to Laura Kelly


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