2007 Interns

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2007 Interns




Let us tell you about our current interns. We hope that their stories will be meaningful and inspirational to you.

BETHANY WLAZ: March 31 – June 31, 2007

SHANA SNOCHOWSKI: November 11, 2006 – May 22, 2007

VIC MATHIESON: January 13th – February 23rd, 2007

June 3 – August 19, 2006

CLAIRE FELLMAN: January 6th – April 6th, 2007

RAJU NAIK: January 6th – March 31st, 2007

MARGI SHAH: March 18 – June 18, 2006

September 16 – December 16, 2006

CHRIS POOLE: September 16 – December 16, 2006

Chris, Margi, Laura, and Sean go on a field trip to Jungle Friends to help build primate enclosures.

LAURA WITHEYMAN: September 16 – December 16, 2006

Staff/Keeper Bridget and Laura make enrichment for the cats.

SEAN RAMSDELL: September 2 – December 2, 2006

Hi there! My name is Sean Ramsdell and I’m from a small town in central Massachusetts. I did my internship from September to December, 2006. I have wanted to work with animals since I was a little kid and went to school to get a degree in Biology. After college, I needed to get actual hands-on experience with the animals. I did an internship with rhinos in Texas (Fossil Rim Wildlife Center) and then I decided to do the internship at Big Cat Rescue. I decided to go with Big Cat Rescue not just because they offered housing, but because of the entire mission of Big Cat Rescue – educating the public about exotic cats as pets and saving cats from harmful environments. I found through my internship that I made the rightchoice. My internship at Big Cat Rescue not only allowed me to learnabout animal care techniques and help with BCR’s mission of education, but allowed me to have a lot of fun as well. The cats of course are wonderful towork with, but because BCR is mostly volunteer-run, everyone that works there is there for the animals, and having that kind of unifying purpose really brings everyone together. I miss not being there, but I do have to try and get a “real job” – but I do look forwardto going back there again some day.

Sean next to the biggest BCR cat, Shere Khan the Tiger and performing Operant Conditioning with Amazing Grace the Ocelot.

JON FUHRMAN: June 6 – September 6, 2006

REBECCA SIMMONS: June 3 – September 3, 2006

My name is Becky Simmons from Lee, MA and I am currently attending the Univeristy of Massachusetts at Amherst studying wildlife conservation.  I wanted to be an intern at BCR because all I have EVER wanted to do was help animals. I knew this internship would give me the experience and knowledge I would need to be able to do that as a career, and it has.  The people who work and volunteer at BCR are very knowledgeable, hard working, and passionate about what they do and I have learned so much from them.  Being able to work with these amazing animals and help them was incredible!  I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to be an intern at BCR!

Becky cleaning Cat.a.tats, always with a smile!

A permanent reminder of her time as an intern at BCR. The 2 Becks have matching tattoos of the Big Cat logo.

SARA ALLISON: May 27 – August 27, 2006

Sara, Becky, Jon, and Beckie set up a camera trap on a Faith Tracking expedition.

REBECCA SMALL: May 20 – August 15, 2006

Beckie helps Operations Manager Scott unload a delivery of beef for the cats to eat.

A permanent reminder of her time as an intern at BCR. The 2 Becks have matching tattoos of the Big Cat logo.

NICOLE D’ELIA: February 18 – May 27, 2006

JESSICA STEVENS: January 18 – April 18, 2006

JARRED SMALLEY: November 7, 2005- February 7, 2006

My name is Jarred and I am 24 years old. I first heard of Big Cat Rescue when I was on the internet.  I decided to check it out, to see if volunteering at a place like Big Cat Rescue was for me.  Becuause big cats like lions, tigers, and leopards are so interesting to me.  I am glad that I found a place like BCR becuase it has been so rewarding getting close to these animals.  I encourage anyone who wants to do be an active part in something like caring for these beautiful cats to apply for an internship.  Iit is something that you will never forget.

Jarred hands out enrichment to Tonga the White Serval

CLAUDIA PERRYMAN: October 1 – January 1, 2006

                                       February 18 – May 16, 2006

Hi, my name is Claudia and I came to Big Cat Rescue from Essex, England having graduated in BSC (HON) Animal Science.  I feel passionately about animal welfare and am very interested in their behaviour and health.  Big Cat Rescue has given me an amazing opportunity to work so closely with the cats and has been a valuable experience.  I have very much enjoyed my time here working as part of a great team.

JANICE CHERRY: October 1 – January 1, 2006

Hi, my name is Janice.  I came to Big Cat Rescue from Canada.  Ever since I was little I have loved animals, especially cats.  So when I heard about this internship program, I knew it was the place for me.  My experience here at Big Cat Rescue has been invaluable and I look forward to using the knowledge and information gained through working with fellow interns and keepers to pursue a career in the animal field, opening my own kennel.

OLIVIA BENTLEY September 10 – December 10, 2005

AMANDA BUFFMAN: August 27 – November 21, 2005

EMILY TAYLOR: August 20 – November 20, 2005

SARA MACY: August 13 – November 13, 2005

MEREDITH BELL: June 25 – September 25, 2005

Hello! My name is Meredith Bell. I’m a fourth year undergrad at UCLA studying biochemistry. I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and I absolutely love the Ducks! I work at Starbucks and in the UCLA Hospital assisting in research about the neurological effects of methanphetamines. I love hip hop and football and I obviously love animals! I’m here at Big Cat Rescue to make a difference in an animal’s life. After school I plan on joining the Peace Corps and then working in wildlife conservation or research. I can’t believe Big Cat Rescue is giving me the amazing opportunity to work first hand with Tigers and Leopards. I’m so excited to be here!

Meredith plants ferns in a Cat.a.tat that is being updated for Alphie the Serval.

RESHAM SHIRSAT: June 4 – September 4, 2005

My name is Resham, some people call me Rey, and I’ve just started my 3 month internship at Big Cat Rescue. I’m originally from Long Island, New York where I got my B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Anthropology. I recently graduated from Stony Brook University with a M.S. in Environmental Management. I have primarily been interested in primatology which is the reason I participated in a semester long conservation biology study abroad program in Ranamofana National Park in Madagascar. Since then, although there are no large cats in Madagascar, I’ve also become very interested in carnivore conservation, expecially Big Cats. I’ve been torn between entering a career in wildlife resarch or care, and that’s why I’m here now. I hope that my new life in Florida will lead me into a postition that will allow me to work near wildlife while having an impact on conservation issures.                                  Lauren, Jess, Meredith, and Resham observe Cameron the Lion during Enrichment time

BRIDGET BOLGER: May 21 – August 21, 2005

My name is Bridget Bolger.  I’m 23 and a recent graduate of Florida State University.  Animals have always been a big part of my life.  When I was in high school I became interested in studying animal behavior and decided that I really wanted to take care of exotic animals.  I’ve always loved cats and while doing some research on places that offered internships working with cats, I came across Big Cat Rescue.  After reading more about it I knew this was a place that I could learn not only about caring for these animals, but also be a part of a team committed to helping these animals.

Bridget has since been hired in the administrative department at BCR as the GiftShop Manager.

Bridget assists Senior Keeper Marcy and Operations Manager Scott with the transport of Buffy the Tiger to a new enclosure.

ALISON CORREIA: May 21 – August 21, 2005

My name is Alison Correia and I am 19 years old (soon to be 20) and I am currently attending Unity College in Main as a Wildlife Care & Education major.  I chose to do an internship with Big Cat Rescue because my dream since I was a little girl was to work with tigers.  As I got older I realized that I wanted to have a sanctuary just like BCR.  I know that I will most likely never be able to afford my own, but having the opportunity to help these animals and touch the people that visit BCR was something I could never pass up.  I hope to learn the ins and outs of working and higher positions of the sanctuary to gain knowledge, if I ever hit the lottery!   Being able to see the animals every day and support their lives is the most important part of what my experience at BCR will give me.  Thank you for giving me such a wonderful opportunity!

Allison, Crystal, and Jessica take measurements of a turtle shell found while on a Faith tracking expedition

JESSICA POWNALL: May 21 – August 21, 2005

My name is Jessica Pownall.  I am working towards earning my Bachelors degree in Zoology / Physiology at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey.  My goal is to work in conservation and with the big cats.  I wanted to intern at Big Cat Rescue to gain experience in this area.  One of my main reasons for applying to Big Cat Rescue is that the sanctuary is a rescue.  I am touched that there is  a place that takes care of these abandoned animals and feel privileged to have been chosen as part of the Big Cat Rescue team.

Jess and Lauren hand out enrichment to Bobcats Despurado and Little White Dove

LAUREN MEADS: May 14 – August 14, 2005

My name is Lauren Meads and I have recently obtained my degree in Biological Sciences from Simon Fraser University.  I am from Vancouver, B.C., Canada and chose to participate in this unique and exciting internship at Big Cat Rescue.  I believe this internship will give me valuable experience into the world of animal husbandry pertaining to zoos and sanctuaries.  This experience will give me the practical knowledge to accompany my degree and lead me to a career working with animals.

Lauren, Allira, and Senior Keeper Marcy scrubbing tiger ponds with the company of Buffy the Tiger

JENNY SCHUTTE: May 14 – August 14, 2005

My name is Jenny Schutte.  I was born and raised in Iowa, close to a city called Cedar Rapids.  I went to school at Iowa State University for a B.S. in Animal Science.  I am continuing my education there as a student of the College of Veterinary Medicine.  I came to Big Cat Rescue because I feel Iowa has an increasing need for veterinarians who understand the care and medicine of non-domestic cat species.  Iowa is seeing an influx of exotics and more frequently animals are being seized, due to abuse or illegal ownership, that require qualified care.  When I graduate from vet school I would like to practice emergency medicine, as well as be a resource for state law enforcement and the Red Cross.   What I specifically hope to gain from my internship at BCR is an in depth understanding of the housing, daily care, feeding and basic preventive medicine non-domestics require.  I also hope to get a grasp on the training that can be done to simplify examinations, sample collection and medication administration.

Jenny assisting Dr. Wynn with the neuter of Mr. E. the Leopard Cat

CRYSTAL JETER: May 7 – August 7, 2005

My name is Crystal Jeter and I’m from Gainesville, Florida.  I came here because I am majoring in zoology and have always wanted to work with exotic cats.  Through being here I am hoping to be able to observe species of animals that I may not be able to see in a zoo or would not be able to see as closely.  Through this opportunity I also hope to have an understanding of what it is like to take care of these animals on a continuous basis.

Lauren, Crystal, and Jessica investigate bobcat tracks found during a tracking expedition

RYAN LEWIS: March 24 – May 24, 2005

ALLIRA MURPHY: March 15 – June 15, 2005

My name is Allira Murphy and I am from Port Kembla in Australia.  I have recently completed my zoo keeping course and I was looking for some more hands on experience working with cats.  From about the age of 10 I had been caring for sick, injured and orphaned Australian wildlife, I’ve also been volunteering at a zoo and two local wildlife parks as well as having worked at boarding kennels, stables, and pet shops, but nothing has given me the experience that I have gained since becoming an intern at Big Cat Rescue.  Big Cat Rescue has helped to make a dream come true.

Allira performing Operant Training with Nirvana the Ocelot

AVI NARULA: February 11 – May 11, 2005

Hi, my name is Avi Narula, I’m from Auckland, New Zealand. I found Big Cat Rescue on the net and it instantly stood out as an incredibly awesome place, one that I could get some valuable Big Cat experience from. Previous to my internship at the sanctuary, I had completed a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Auckland and a Certificate in Animal Management (in Captive Wild Animals) at another tertiary institution. I also had experience volunteering at a vet clinic and Auckland Zoo and was a part-time keeper there for a year too. I was fortunate to be able to have that experience behind before I came to the rescue, you really don’t need that much experience as long as you have dedication, passion and are willing to work hard and learn. The work is not glamorous, it involves around 80% of your day cleaning, feeding and maintaining the sanctuary, whilst the other 20% involves interacting (enrichment, operant conditioning etc) in some way with the cats…. That 20% makes up for everything though! I have always had a passion for Big Cats, especially the African species and my future goals are to work with them whether it be in the wild or captivity. My experience at Big Cat Rescue further inspired me to keep working towards my goals and to continue to be a voice for these awesome animals. I learnt so much about Big Cats in 3 months, and not only did I learn about the cats but they teach you a lot about yourself too. It is a real privilege to be working with these animals every day. At the sanctuary, you meet some very experienced people, make lifelong friends and take away memories and experiences of Big Cats that you will never forget.

Avi feeding Pharaoh the White Serval

GAYLE GILMORE: January 8 – April 8, 2005

HONEY WAYTON: November 15, 2004 – May 15, 2005

LAURA KYLE: November 7, 2004- February 7, 2005

NIKKI GUTHRIE: October 21, 2004 – January 21, 2005

I came to Big Cat Rescue hoping to get some direction for my future. Animals are one of my many passions and I didn’t want to pursue a career in zoo-keeping without knowing what I was getting myself into.

My internship really helped me find my passion within the animal field. I found that I really enjoyed the educational aspect. I really loved giving tours. It was great to be the person showing a guest an ocelot or a serval for the first time. I felt responsible for their emotions. It gives me chills knowing what I did impacted so many people.

It’s unreal to see so many volunteers give up their time for the animals. My internship helped me realize what kind of person I want to be.

TREVOR GERLACH: June 30 – August 17, 2004

LIANNE GIBSON: June 8 – September 4, 2004

“My name is Lianne Gibson and I’m 31. I’m English, but I live in Scotland. I work full time as a secretary for St. Andrews University in the School of Biology Department. I am currently doing an animal studies course which is flexible learning. I have a major passion for tigers in particular, but I love all big cats. I am at a point in my life where I want to work with animals. Big Cat Rescue has given me a great opportunity to get up close to these cats, and I hope to learn lots during my 3 month stay here. I hope to finish my animal studies course by Christmas and hopefully go on to do zoology at night school. I know at some point in the future I will be working with big cats, and Big Cat Rescue will have played a major role in this and I thank every on in advance for the experience. Save the Tiger!”

Lianne preparing food for the omnivores

KATT KELLEY: May 31 – November 31, 2004

“My husband Michael and I moved down from Seattle Washington for this internship (along with our 170lb pooch, three cats and bird). I have a BS in zoology from Washington State University and may (or may not) go back to school for my MS or PhD after. I would eventually like to work in rehabilitation of wildlife back into a natural environment; those who have been orphaned, injured or otherwise displaced by human encroachment. Primarily this work would be with the great apes (I would like to be Jane Goodall when I grow up), however, I have a fondness for most predators as well, and would love to do research with them. So far, Florida has been a strange and interesting new planet to explore, and I look forward to whatever the next 6 months brings me.”

Katt preparing food for the omnivores

STEPHANIE SABSHIN: May 17 – July 17, 2004

“My name is Stephanie Sabshin. I live locally in Spring Hill, during the summer and go to school at the Honors College at Florida Atlantic in Jupiter, FL. I am majoring in Environmental Biology. I am very interested in preservation and find large cats incredibly amazing. There was no way I could pass up the opportunity to work with and help care for the cats. I am interning as a semester for my school, and getting credits, and more importantly, experience. When I’m finished with school, I intend on continuing to work in preservation (hopefully large cat preservation).”

Stephanie painting one of the onsite storage buildings

STEVE TAPPER: May 16 – November 16, 2004

“My name is Steve Tapper. I am from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I originally heard about Big Cat Rescue from my father, who discovered it on the internet. I plan on getting keeper experience from this internship, and one day hope to get a degree in zoology and become a keeper. “

JONNIE RUSSELL: May 3 – October 31, 2004

“My name is Jonnie Russell and I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. I graduated from Whittier College in Los Angeles in 2001 with a B.S. in Biology. After graduation, I took a research class at the L.A. Zoo and fell in love with the tigers! I have been volunteering with exotic animals ever since. I have always loved being outside and this opportunity gives me the chance to combine hard work with the experience of being close to these amazing cats. I wanted to work for a sanctuary that has staff and volunteers that passionately cares about the working with animals, and I have definitely found that at Big Cat Rescue. I eventually hope to pursue a position as a zookeeper and attend grad school to do research in the animal behavior field.”

Jonnie sorting produce for the omnivores

DANIELLE WAINFUR – May 3 – July 20, 2004

“Hi, my name is Danielle. I’m 19 years old and I live in the UK. I am currently studying a 2 year animal care course, in college. My childhood dream and passion in life has always been to work with animals. Since the age of 12, I have had hand’s on experience of working with animals at my local vets, boarding kennels and cattery and 2 pet shops. There is a saying that “there is a 1 st time for everything”. This happened to be my 1 st time to the USA. As soon as I arrived at Big Cat Rescue, I arrived with a perception. That perception no longer exists. Big Cat Rescue has opened up my eyes. Big Cat Rescue has given me a fresh breath of confidence. Big Cat Rescue has inspired me. I am extremely proud of myself for what I have done and what I have achieved. I’m now half way through my 3 month internship at Big Cat Rescue. If I had to describe e Big Cat Rescue, I would describe it as “A labour of love”. Words fail to describe how I feel right now. Big Cat Rescue has turned one of my dreams into a reality. I’m now living my dream, thanks to Big Cat Rescue.”

AOIFE: February 24 – March 24, 2004

My name is Aoiffe and I am from Spain. “I was looking for some hands-on experience in the animal field (preferably with cats!) and found information about the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary on the Internet. I was very impressed about the history of the place( also amazed that a place like this could even exist!), how it was founded and the number of felines they had. I felt a little discouraged at first about applying cause I thought it would be quite difficult to organize: me coming from Europe, not being too flexible on dates etc would surely be inconvenient, BUT it all turned out to work out very easily, it seems that with just the first email everything was almost settled! The staff were very helpful and cooperative on organizing my arrival and stay. They were able to accommodate me without problems and I stayed with a very nice and friendly couple of volunteers who lived close to the Park.

Work at Big Cat Rescue is very enjoyable, mornings are spent cleaning cages and checking that waters, lock-outs etc have been done. All this is done in a relaxed/comfortable way (usually with very agreeable weather!), where at the same time that you are working, you are profiting of a unique opportunity to observe and get to know the felines.

Other daily duties are “produce” (organizing and preparing the food for the non-carnivorous animals that also live in the park) and “guided tours”, where the animals and their life-stories are introduced to the visitors.

Each tour-guide gets to put a piece of art/passion into their tours, making it its own personal approach to the wildlife creatures and showing the visitors their perspective and feelings, which makes each tour a very special experience.

The recollections of my experience at the Sanctuary have given me the impression of it being a very well organized place. Everyone, from the founder to the last arriving volunteer are admirable for their dedication and the work they put into such a nice cause. The volunteers are friendly and outgoing people, each of them part of an impressive/powerful network thatmanages to keep and maintain happy and rather busy/entertained cats, a proof of this is that each of them gets a rather spacious and independent enclosure as its “property” (even each tiger has its own private pool!), knowing cats you will understand that this luxury is important for them.

It has been a wonderful experience and I really hope to come back!”

KARI DEBOSKEY: September 13 – December 13, 2003 

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