August 24, 2017
What an extraordinary summer Noah Diaz-Portalatin '17 had at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo, working as an intern with wild animals—two types of cranes, wildebeest, two types of zebras, giraffe, bongo antelope, Kori bustard, ground hornbill, camel, ostrich, lions and tigers.
A biology major from Mineola, N.Y., Diaz-Portalatin said, "Since I was little, I've loved exotic animals and zoos were my favorite place to go. So when I had the opportunity to work in a zoo with such amazing animals, I can honestly say I lived the dream."
He enjoyed all the animals in the Hooves and Horns area, but his favorites were the tigers.
"My intern project was focused on Luther, our male tiger, so I spent a lot of my time doing observations of them. I also got to talk to the public about tigers and share fun facts about our two individuals, making my time around them even more rewarding," Diaz-Portalatin explained.
His days were filled with feeding the various animals and recording food intake; observing them for unusual behaviors or appearance; administering medicine according to the veterinarians' instructions; and acclimating animals to stalls, chutes, crates, halters or perches for use in medical procedures, transfers or educational programs, among other responsibilities.
He cited his sophomore-year Systematics class, taught by biology professors Carlos Iudica and Jack Holt, as helping him learn about the natural history of animals, many of which he worked with at the zoo.
"Learning about how zoos work, working on my project that had a medical focus, and speaking frequently with the vets on staff definitely helped prepare me for the future," Diaz-Portalatin said.