Column: In Conservation: By Kathy Diekman

My years as zoo director at the Chahinkapa Zoo are more than a job choice.  It is a lifestyle.  One that I am fortunate to experience as each day is full and different than the day before.  As a zoologist I am blessed to be able to work with animals and science.  I watch animal behavior with the excitement of a small child seeing a grizzly bear for the first time.  When asked which is my favorite animal I hesitate for only a second.    They are all special and all have a huge impact in conservation education.   But, choosing from 70 species at Chahinkapa Zoo, my absolute favorite is indeed the human species.  Truly! I work alongside professional animal keepers and a veterinarian who can top the charts in compassion and care.  I have a crew of outstanding people.  We are a zoo family.  And making each of our days extra special is the zoo visitor!  People who come to the zoo are on a quest to have an exciting venture for their family. Some are here for a date night, special occasion, or even a company picnic.  Our team is able to provide the superior zoo experience and is rewarded with smiles, questions, and amusing tales.  Chahinkapa Zoo welcomes visitors from around the globe. And whether we are seeing them for the first time or the third time in a week each person is making a difference in world conservation.  Just by visiting a zoo or aquarium you are contributing to this science.  And we are appreciative.

I have been at Chahinkapa Zoo for over 25 years and have seen many changes.  Through floods, habitat construction, renovation, and conservation needs I have much faith in mankind and the power that we all have as humans working together.   It goes well beyond what you see from the zoo pathways, however.  A big part of Chahinkapa Zoo’s successes are partners.  I wish to thank Ken Harty, publisher of Fergus Falls Daily Journal / Wick Communications for initiating this new zoo column.  I look forward to connecting to each of you through readership.

Kathy Diekman is the director at Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton.

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