Since her earliest memory, eleventh-grader India Hershowitz has always wanted to work with animals. She was given the opportunity in the middle of last year to capitalize on her love for animals at Jungle Gardens in Sarasota.
Hershowitz began volunteering at Jungle Gardens in May 2020 through a connection with a zookeeper. Since then, she’s been volunteering at the zoo, primarily with birds and reptiles.
“I guess I really just love, honestly, being with the animals a lot. It’s super fun to just hang out with them every once in a while. Because I mean I do a lot of work like cleaning and stuff like that, but it’s really cool when you get to interact with them,” Hershowitz said.
She primarily works with parrots, explaining that “it’s really crazy to see all their intelligence and everything they do.” Her favorite parrots are Andy Sr., who has a bald belly with no feathers, and Frosty Jr., who is an “absolute brat.”
She typically volunteers at the zoo once a week, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but puts in extra days if she has time off. She works with about 60 parrots and reptiles all together.
Hershowitz is interested in becoming an exotic veterinarian because she specifically enjoys working with animals outside the normal scope of veterinary medicine.
She will continue to volunteer as the school year goes on, but once summer begins, she will be given the official title of Intern Zookeeper.
“I basically do the job of an intern… I don’t do what a volunteer does anymore because I’ve been working for so long and working with all the animals,” Hershowitz said.
Hershowitz is doing what she loves by volunteering at the Zoo, on her way to making her biggest dreams come true. Keep an eye out for exotic veteranarian India Hershowitz in the future.
*Disclaimer: All photos were taken under the supervision and with permission from a zookeeper.