A One-Day Diary
No, I’m not writing this to feed my ego or to impress you with how hard I work. I recorded one typical day in my life to illustrate that being a wildlife educator is NOT the fun and gregarious lifestyle that so many of you imagine it to be. I have not embellished. I did not pick-out an unusually tough day. This is it. This is what it’s really like.
Monday, March 9, 2009
6:15 AM: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze button two times before getting up to let the dog out. Make 8 cups of black coffee and check calendar for today’s bookings. Unload animal feeding bowls from dishwasher. Pile another load of animal laundry into washer.
6:45 AM: Still in pajamas, take coffee to do morning rounds in the animal facilities (yes, they are on our property). Eye each cage, reply to animal greetings, note any food bowels that haven’t been finished, turn on the parrot’s TV, give post-surgical ferret morning meds, mist down the chameleon and the bullfrog to simulate morning dew. Take extra time to cuddle with those who have come out to greet me. Make notes on the message board for the zookeeper who’s scheduled.
7:15 AM: Pour 4th cup of coffee and check for new e-mail. Reply to 3 new inquiries that appeared overnight. Hit the shower and put on Zooniversity uniform. Wish my husband a good day at work.
8:00 AM: Pack for first client, a preschool that books every year. Transfer five “Springtime” animals into their travel carriers. Load all into the Zooniversity vehicle (you’ve seen it, the one with giant lizards on each side) and prep to leave. Packing interrupted by two phone call inquiries. Answer the first, let the second one go to voice mail. No time to answer now.
9:00 AM: Leave on schedule with animals, an energy drink, and a protein bar (no time to eat a real breakfast). Say morning prayers while driving.
9:45 AM: Arrive in Arlington on schedule. Make two trips to hand carry all crates into the classroom. Sound system set-up and checked. Remind client that no children under the age of 3 years may attend. Fifty 3-5 year olds try to enter as quietly as possible, sitting “criss-cross applesauce” with “bubbles in their mouths.” Kids try their best to follow the safety rules (thank goodness for microphones).
10:30 AM: Show #1 complete. Reload the car and head back to Zooniversity. Return trip slowed down by two phone calls that turned into bookings—needed to pull-over to get all the details.
12:00 Noon: Have 30-minutes to unpack animals, clean travel carriers, grab a lunch of left-overs, and repack for Rockwall Zoo School (a weekly class for home schoolers). Glance at new emails. No time to call them back now.
12:30 PM: Back in the car and aiming for Rockwall. Detour around a stopped LBJ Freeway and lose 20 minutes. Answer a call from my college-student son and got all his news updates from the weekend while driving.
1:30 PM: Arrive behind schedule. Set-up classroom and animals just as the first of 26 students arrive.
2:00 PM: Teach Zoo School Unit 2: Arachnids to an inquisitive group of K-4th graders (GREAT kids). Only a few squeals at the tarantula and scorpion.
3:15 PM: Show #2 complete. Repack and back on the road. Three missed calls. Try to figure out when there’ll be time to return calls and messages, not now.
4:00 PM: Unload again. Greet the evening-shift zookeeper and brief him on special needs today. Ask him to force-feed an anorexic chameleon while I move the post-surgical ferret and one of the fennec foxes into travel carriers and head to the veterinarian’s office. My high-school daughter joins me to catch me up on her day’s news.
4:30 PM: At vet’s office. Ferret sutures are removed (partial pancreaectomy due to insulinoma) and blood sugar is checked. Too low, put back on medication. Fox’s leg is examined. Vet also suspects the worst—a nasty looking tumor has started on her leg. Surgery is scheduled for the following Wednesday. Dang, not good. Stay hopeful.
5:15 PM: Quick stop at the Farmers Market to restock animal food: sweet potatoes, Spring mix, apples and oranges. Grab a few ripe melons and mangoes. Forget to buy human food, oh well.
5:45 PM: Unload and reload for the night’s show—6 rainforest animals for a PTA meeting in Flower Mound. No time for dinner, grab another protein bar.
6:45 PM: Arrive ahead of schedule despite rush hour traffic and sit in the car to return 5 phone calls, connect with three of them and book reservations.
7:00 PM: Set-up for show and wait while the PTA meeting drags on beyond our scheduled start time. Start 20 minutes later than planned. The natives are rather restless, but left with the client happy.
8:30 PM: Show #3 complete. Repack and back in the car. Swing through Wendy’s drive-thru and eat dinner in the parking lot.
9:15 PM: Back at Zooniversity to unpack animals, clean travel carriers and check for any new zookeeper’s notes. One last animal walk-around. Lots of nighttime greetings and cuddles for the nocturnal animals. Give the last of the day’s medications. Lights-out for all non-human creatures.
10:00 PM: Sit down at computer to check email. Generate email confirmations and invoices for the new bookings. Realize that my website needs updating, add it to my to-do list my day-off next week.
12:00 AM: Stare at tomorrow’s schedule to figure-out what wake-up time is needed. Lights out for all human creatures.