By Nicole Collins, Career Consultant / Internship Coordinator
Rebekah Selmanie’s ’12 lifelong interest in working with animals brought her to Unity College. “The captive wildlife care and education program was everything I was looking for,” Selmanie said. “It has been the best decision I have ever made in my life.”
While her studies filled her with a sense of confidence, it was the internship program that inspired Selmanie’s journey to the Ya’an Bifengxia Panda Research Base in China, an organization that works to successfully breed Giant Panda for reintroduction into the wild.
Selmanie’s day-to-day activities were similar to local keeper internships: preparing diets, cleaning enclosures, and monitoring behavior. She was however faced with the added challenges of language barriers and cultural differences. “One thing I learned that is most important in any country with any job, is that hard work still does earn your respect from fellow zookeepers,” Selmanie said. And it did. By the end of her internship, she was entrusted with the responsibility of training new volunteers.
In addition to Selmanie becoming more independent and confident in her skills, this internship helped her to pinpoint what would be her specific area of interest. “This experience has opened my mind to new worlds and opportunities. I want to expand my knowledge of conservation and animals in captivity in other countries, especially endangered animals,” Selmanie stated. “I want to be part of the efforts to save the animal kingdom and improve this world for the better.”