| Areas of Expertise
Winston Salem, North Carolina
| Favorite Quote
“Each life is precious unto itself from the tiniest insect to the greatest tree…Vigorously it must protect its right to be and to become.”
– Gwen Frostic
| Job Title
Lead African Elephant Caregiver at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennesse
Biology with Zoology emphasis
I have had the privilege of working with a wide range of animals from a small age. My first job was working for a large animal vet that was a wonderful teacher and mentor. She encouraged me to jump in to the field with so much passion. Originally I wanted to go to vet school but found zoology and got hooked. I graduated with a degree in Biology in 2006 and have worked as a vet technician, a wildlife rehabber, a horse trainer, a zookeeper and curator and now an elephant caregiver. My background has taught me to be open-minded, to constantly be willing to learn new things, and value diversity. This career has shown me to let go of ego and put my entire heart and soul into improving animal welfare. I like to think I have the greatest job in the world.
I remember my dad telling me when I was in high school that I would never get into this career. I was the first person from my family to graduate college and move out of my hometown. That always stuck with me and I wanted nothing more than to prove him wrong.
| Emotional Story
One of my favorite things about what I do is seeing an animal come through a hardship whether it is releasing an injured animal from wildlife rehab or training a nervous elephant to accept a blood draw willingly. A moment that stood out in my career was training a baby Bongo to target, station and load into a trailer for a facility transfer. The day came and he (at only 6 months old) walked into the trailer on cue with zero stress.
| Conservation Tip
Start small locally so you can see the needs in your own neighborhood. Maybe you need a recycling program or a Roots and Shoots group. Become a licensed wildlife rehabber or volunteer at a shelter. These things may lead to discovering larger and broader projects or opportunities.
1. It’s never too early to get started. Volunteer and get involved in as much as you can to gain experience.
2. Learn to write a really strong resume and cover letter. This field is competitive and can be difficult to get started so your resume needs to stand out to make the cut.
3. Don’t let ego drive your career path. There can be a lot of ego in the animal world. Be flexible and willing to learn from others.
| If You Could Be Any Animal, What Would You Be?
River Otter-they just seem like they love life and have so much fun.
Website: www.elephants.com Learn about the sanctuary and what we do or watch our live “ele-cams” for an up-close encounter.
Social: Facebook – @KristySandsEaker