Make The Connection

October 16, 2019 | By Madison Bridger ’21

Ohio Wesleyan student Jenn Douglas ’21 named and helped to care for baby penguin Nemo during her summer internship as an assistant penguin keeper at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida. (Photo by Larkin Johansen

Raising Nemo

Ohio Wesleyan Student Cares for Baby Penguin During Florida Zoo Internship

Jenn Douglas ’21

Name: Jenn Douglas ’21
Hometown: Easton, Maryland
Major: Zoology
Minor: Environmental Science
OWU Connection Experience: Grant-supported internship as an assistant penguin keeper at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida.

Favorite Moment

“My favorite moment of this internship was being able to hand-raise and name a baby Magellanic Penguin.

“The name I chose for this baby boy penguin is Nemo. His dad raised him after his mom passed away unexpectedly. We also helped to feed and spend time with the baby to help his father be able to still live a healthy life.

“By the end of my experience, Nemo had imprinted on me and considered me like a mother, so leaving was extremely challenging.”

A Day in the Life

“This internship gave me hands-on, interactive learning experience that allowed me to expand my knowledge in the zoological field. I had daily interactions with the 26 penguins ranging from newborns to 17 years old.

“My normal daily routine consisted of feeding the penguins three times a day, tracking the exact amount each individual ate, sorting crates of fish to make sure the penguins were eating only high-quality fish, preparing daily vitamins and medications, providing enrichment, daily behavioral training, and cleaning exhibits and enclosures to ensure a healthy environment.

“Also during this experience I had the opportunity to work with other sections of the bird department of the zoo. I had the chance to work with four baby flamingos that needed daily swim time, exercise, and training in order to make sure each of them maintained a happy and healthy lifestyle.”

Lessons Learned

“The penguin keeper internship at the Jacksonville Zoo allowed me to perform all of the daily routines that a zookeeper would do. This experience allowed me to experience what my field looks like after graduation and taught me many skills on how to handle birds, provide medications, perform daily trainings, and much more.

“The Small Grant from Ohio Wesleyan University has allowed me to gain hands-on experience in my field helping me to grow my resume and learn necessary skills in the zoological field.”

My Plans After Graduation

“After graduation, I hope to work for a zoo and focus on creating conservation and education programs to teach the importance of animals in our world. Many people do not realize the impact we have on animals and the impact animals have on us as well.” 

Why I Chose OWU

When making my college decision, I chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan because it combined both the academic and athletic needs that I wanted. The strong zoology and environmental science programs with the close proximity to the Columbus Zoo was important to me. It gave me a close-knit, small-town that is easily accessible as well.”