Aquarium Curator and Herpetologist
Date: January 30, 2012
Place: National Aquarium, Washington DC
Interview: Jay Bradley, General Curator and CJ Weaver, Amphibian and Reptile Specialist
Have you thought of working at an aquarium? Watch Jay and CJ describe their jobs working with animals and even see Oleander, an albino alligator, while he's feeding!
Jay Bradley, General Curator:
I would say my main responsibilities are overseeing the animal collection and what animals we have here, as well as overseeing the animal care staff and the job that they're doing taking care of the animals. It's [the aquarium] probably [has] close to 1200 individual animals, a little over 200 different species.
CJ Weaver, Herpetologist (Amphibian and Reptile Specialist)
I pretty much just maintain all the exhibits and all the animals within the exhibits, which entails actually feeding, all the feeding schedules, noticing any problems with the actual animals themselves.
Q: Did you like playing with animals as a kid?
Jay: When I was a kid I was always the one out there with a dip net and a bucket, you know out on the streams in my neighborhood, you know going to parks and stuff. And always very active in the outdoors and everything. But I guess I really didn't think about working with animals as a career until probably my sophomore year in college.
Oleander, the Albino American Alligator:
Jay: We have the Albino Alligator on exhibit right now.
CJ: She's about 3 years old now. She's roughly 4½ feet. Usually we stick to mice as a staple, frozen mice of course.
Well, the technical term is amelonistic, which if you break that down a little bit, the melanin is actually the dark pigment (color) in your skin. So if you say amelanistic it means that it does not have this dark pigment. So albino alligator just means that it has none of that black pigment.
Advice for kids interested in working with animals:
CJ: Get in the environment. Look around at all the creepy crawlies that are underneath rocks and logs and in the streams. Get access to as many animals as you can. You know, don't bug your parents for a lot of animals, but you know, just volunteer at nature centers. Volunteering, once you get to the right age, volunteering at places like this, like that National Aquarium or the National Zoo.