Amy Green, senior communications major, grinned as she sat on a man-made rock in a frigid room cuddling her new friend, a macaroni penguin named Mickey.
“I just love spending time with them,” Green said as dozens of visitors to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium snapped pictures of her through the glass of the penguin exhibit.
Cuddling the penguins wasn’t actually part of her internship responsibilities this past summer at the aquarium. Rather, it was one of the perks.
Green, dressed most days in khaki shorts and a blue shirt with the zoo’s logo, was responsible for cleaning up and helping out at the aquarium, but one of the highlights was feeding and bathing the penguins.
A self-professed animal lover, Green said her internship was a dream come true.
“Ever since I was a little child, I dreamt of working in a zoo,” she said. “I have a passion for animals.”
In addition to her penguin duties, Green helped feed the freshwater fish, tested water quality, and helped train a tiger shark to hit a target with its nose. She even got to swim with cownose rays.
Throughout the summer Green gave behind-the-scenes tours to family and friends.
“I was told that friends were encouraged to come because that way I could brag about my cool job,” Green said.
The high point of the visit for friends was getting to interact with the penguins in a holding room behind the exhibit. Green often brought in Mickey or one of the aquarium’s other friendly penguins to meet her friends.
Green was one of 12 unpaid interns in the aquarium and the Water’s Edge areas of the zoo. About 70 people applied for the position.
According to Kathy Wozniak, who oversees hiring interns for the aquarium and Water’s Edge, Green was persistent, and while she wasn’t majoring in animal science, she showed a strong love of animals.
“That’s how I was in high school and college,” Wozniak said. “I got the opportunity, so I wanted to give others the opportunity.”
Wozniak said that Green had many jobs and learned them quickly.
Though Green’s internship is over, she decided to stay on to volunteer twice a month.
“My favorite part was learning more about penguins and realizing how dog-like they are. They love to follow you around,” Green said. “My favorite part wasn’t being bit in the face by a baby penguin.”
Green’s goal is to get a job working at a zoo after graduation, and she’s hoping her time at the zoo will help.
“I always pictured myself working with animals,” Green said. “I love animals more than I love people sometimes.”
Originially written by Dana Sklack '11 for the Penn State Beaver Nittany News, Fall 2011