1. Fear of Snakes
Question: I have a terrible fear of snakes! Am I advised not to take part in a safari?
Answer: If it can reassure you, more people get into trouble in road accidents than with snakes….
One just needs to understand that the bush is the bush, and that these creatures are definitely out there. But if you stay with your guide (on game walks for instance…), stick to the roads, and don’t venture on your own in dense vegetation, you’ll be just fine! 🙂
I’ve had the chance to live in Africa for over 24 years and have never had any problems whatsoever. So honestly, you shouldn’t be worried… 😉
2. Working with Wild Animals
Question: What are the academic qualifications necessary to work hands-on with exotic animals, in a behavioral/training environment (especially with large predators)? In other words, is it necessary to have a science based degree (zoology/biology)? Or is a straight B. Arts enough, and then have a multitude of certificates & experience with animals & animal training on top of that?
I have always, for as long as I can remember, wanted to work with big cats – especially as a big cat trainer, and animal behaviorist. I realize this is a very hard field to get into. I am a veterinary nurse/technician, a dog trainer, and have done several certificates in animal nutrition, big cat husbandry/handling, and am looking into doing a Captive Animal Management Certificate.
I am doing a straight B. Arts, because I am just not a science oriented person to that degree. I understand the work really well & find it interesting, but just can’t get the chemistry units I need to do a zoology degree.
Do you think there is much chance of me still being able to work with big cats (not necessarily in Africa), and in the exotic animal training world without a science degree?
What are some of the things I could start doing to further my chances of getting into the animal training world (especially working with the large predators)?
Are there other ways to access this as a career without having that sort of degree?
Answer: To be honest with you there is no “recipe” for success, and to get into what you’re looking for two essential qualities are needed:
1. Passion. From what I’ve read there is no doubt that you definitely have it! 🙂
2. Perseverance. That is perhaps the most challenging requirement. Believe that you ALREADY ARE where you want to go even though it may sometimes not feel that way yet. Believe it no matter what! 😉
As far as diplomas/certificates needed, once again there is no rule (although it does help to have a couple). Some people reach their goals without necessarily having the “qualifications”, but they ATTRACT the situations, people and opportunities because they are passionate about what they’re doing and know what they DO want!
This leads to my next point: CLARITY is power! 🙂 Once you know what you’d like to do, once you know your qualities (passion, perseverance, etc.) and the things you DO NOT want (in your case you’re not necessarily a science person; welcome to the club lol), then you can FOCUS on the things that will take you there!
One last thing. You said the following: “I realize this is a very hard field to get into.” Let me tell you that you are right. Why? Because that’s part of your belief system. Getting into my field of expertise is HARD. Do me a favor: change the way you think! 🙂 Persuade yourself that it is in fact EASY to get into what you like…and the universe will respond to your request! 😉
What are some things I could start doing to further my chances of getting into the animal training world (especially working with the large predators)?
Answer: Continue what you are doing already (great job, keep it up). And most importantly, TAKE SOME ACTION. Call the people that are already into the field, contact zoos, send some emails…and just GO FOR IT! Opportunities are everywhere (scarcity is just a big lie).
Are there other ways to access this as a career without having that sort of “scientific” degree?
Answer: You already have all that it takes…all you need now is to persevere! 🙂 Easier said than done I know (I myself am working on this bit…), but at the end of the day it is totally worthwhile! 😉
3. Wild Animals and Tourists
Question: The idea of going on a safari sounds great and all, but I’m a little worried about the wild animals. I hear that in some safari areas, game drives are conducted in open vehicles. Is this safe? What if a lion or leopard tries to jump into the jeep?
Answer: This question is a classic! 🙂 In most instances, “dangerous” animals such as big cats will not see you as a person, but rather as a big “thing” (the car). In other words, they won’t attack you because you are part of an entity that is larger than them.
However, if you were to come out of the car it would be a totally different story… 😉
One piece of advice: Stay inside your vehicle at all times, listen to your guide, and do not disturb the animals by being noisy, making sudden movements, etc. Because in that case you are looking for big trouble! 🙂
Question: I love baboons and vervet monkeys, I find them so cute! 🙂 Can I feed them?
Answer: PLEASE do not feed wild animals, whether it is a monkey, a bird or a rodent (wouldn’t try the big cats either…). By feeding them they become accustomed to being nourished, and ultimately this may prevent their survival in the wild.
In the case of monkeys specifically, feeding them is the worst of ideas as it affects their behaviour and may lead to aggression. In fact, it is not unusual to come across “naughty” baboons that assault people and cars in search for food! Better left alone…