| Areas of Expertise
Marine Biologist & Animal Trainer
| Favorite Quote
“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”
| Job Title
Senior Keeper of Training and Conditioning
Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Biology.
I was born in Arizona and like every young animal lover frequented the local zoo and had every animal I could get my hands on as pets. My family moved to California and then to Puerto Rico where my passion for the ocean became a lifestyle. A few years later I moved to Virginia and then Florida where I got my first zoo job working with primates and parrots. I promptly decided to continue to pursue my passion for the ocean and moved back home to the Caribbean. I attended the University of the Virgin Islands and started working at an aquarium. I was fortunate enough to be involved in many amazing conservation projects such as reef restoration and monitoring sea turtle nests. I was then given the opportunity to work with four handsome sea lions and this is when I decided animal behavior was my new passion. After a few years working in the Caribbean, I was given the opportunity to move to Dubai and work with dolphins. In Dubai, I learned more about animal training and behavior and was able to share this with the public through daily guest interaction programs. After a few years in Dubai, I moved to Singapore to continue to pursue working with dolphins. In Singapore, I was not only a dolphin trainer but I was also responsible for mentoring other trainers who were new to the industry. After a while, in Singapore, I relocated with my fiancé to Sydney, Australia and after a few rough months of unemployment, I found my dream job working with Australian Fauna. I now spend my days as the manager of an incredible team of people and an exceptional collection of animals. Every day we spend our days training animals such as parrots, gliders, quolls and Tasmanian devils to participate voluntarily in their own medical care and inspiring our visitors to fall in love with these animals and care for their wild cousins.
| And you think lifeguards have to be in shape.
| Yellow-bellied glider are the 2nd largest species of glider in the world native to Australia.
Myself. Yes, I have experienced sexism and discrimination and been denied jobs or opportunities due to the fact I didn’t have friends in the right places or that I spoke my mind, but none of that ever discouraged me. It has been myself that has been my own worst enemy. There have been times when I have told myself that I wasn’t qualified or I’ve even tried to change myself to fit in. It has only been in the last few months that I have become more and more comfortable with who I am and began to really love myself. If you look at who I am in a negative light I’m loud, obnoxious and too blunt. If you look at it in a positive light I am outgoing, bubbly and vivacious. It’s all about perception. Be kind to yourself.
| Flying birds like it ain’t no thang.
| Emotional Story
When I first started working with dolphins I was lucky enough to work with a naughty teenage dolphin named Lennox who was a bit of a firecracker. He was super smart and from time to time liked to push trainers buttons. After some time working with him we began to get our rhythm and build a strong relationship. One day there was a woman and her daughter who signed up from a program who was disabled and deaf. I knew a little bit of American Sign Language so I volunteered to take them in my group. Due to the women’s disability, she was unable to sit still in the water and normally that amount movement would make Lennox quiet uncomfortable but he didn’t even bat an eyelash. Toward the end of the program, I was showing everyone how dolphins vocalize but because the woman couldn’t hear she was confused. I took her hand and put it on top of Lennox’s blowhole so she could feel the vibrations (something we never do so it’s not something Lennox would be used to) and she started to cry. I knew at that moment that I Lennox and I had just made a memory for her that she would never forget. This is why I do the job I do and I love it more than anything in the world. My hope is to make people fall in love with the animals they meet and that they want to save the planet their wild cousins live in!
| Conservation Tip
Use a recyclable coffee cup. It’s so easy, not to mention there are loads of cute ones to choose from. So not only are you helping the environment but looking good too!
Never ever say no to an opportunity, it may not be exactly what you wanted or dreamed of but I guarantee it will offer you amazing experiences regardless if you give it the chance.
| If You Could Be Any Animal, What Would You Be?
That’s a really tough question and on any given day I bounce between a few different options… birds, sea creatures or pack animals… I think today Ill choose a wolf. I love that they are strong and formidable yet elusive and nurturing. They social animals that work together and look after one another.
Social: @Kelsrubia on Instagram