Today is Heather’s first official day at the zoo. When we pick up our name badges, it is certified: We are Ambassadors at Woodland Park Zoo, the Heather Team. Toni and I went to the 16 hours in classroom training where the total download of WPZ conservation philosophy and orientation took place. Then our whole team, Heather included, did another 9 hours of training with a wonderful mentor on the zoo grounds going over every exhibit. Now it’s time to do our job!
Heather has her greeting switch with the welcoming words, “Are you enjoying the zoo?” prerecorded. When she hits her switch a voice from a box speaks for her. She is an ambassador for the zoo and for children with disabilities. Little people who have curious minds wonder, “What is going on here? This person is small, she is the size of a 7-year-old, and she is in a wheel chair. What’s up with that?” Their curiosity is usually easily satisfied with a reply from me or Toni, “This is Heather and she was born this way. This is how she talks.”
The zoo is a great place for Heather to be. She loves outside! Anything outside is wonderful in her book. It is a natural bridge for young under-5 kiddos to see and get used to Heather at the zoo. And it’s a rain or shine place to go, since several exhibits have coverings. And when the sun is out the world comes to WPZ, it seems.
So if you are a Woodland Park Zoo patron: Look for Heather at the zoo! Either Toni or I will be with her. We will be part of the Zoo Ambassadors who try to help you have a good time, oh and help you find your way if you’re lost.