Megan Williams, a rising Sophomore Biology major with a Marine Biology concentration, applied for an internship with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium in the spring semester, and was hoping for any position within the PPG Aquarium. She recalls, “I got the call from the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium while I was in the Galapagos participating in a study abroad experience to say that not only would I be working in the Aquarium, but that I’d be working with the penguins. I was so excited.”
Megan has spent a lot of time in the Pittsburgh zoo over the years participating in programs during high school and in zoo summer camps. She says, “My experiences in the zoo programs contributed to my choosing the Marine Biology program and will hopefully lead to a future career in Biology and Marine life.”
The penguins at the PPG Aquarium are native to the Antarctic Peninsula. Their rocky exhibit with a large pool has a glass wall separating them from the public viewing area. The temperature inside their enclosure is maintained at 40-45 degrees.
The penguins are fed twice daily. “I love spending time feeding them because it’s so interactive” says Megan. When the penguins are fed, one employee hand-feeds the fresh fish to the penguins while another tallies how much they are eating.
Some of Megan’s other daily responsibilities include cleaning the aquarium exhibits and interacting with the octopus. She also participates in training sessions with the penguins. They are being trained to hop on the scale on their own so that keepers do not have to pick them up. Between feedings, cleaning, and training, the penguins have approximately four interactions with the workers each day.
Megan is one of four SFU Biology students interning at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium this summer. There are approximately 150 full-time positions at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. During the summer, the zoo employs around 400 seasonal part-time employees including the interns.
While Megan still has three years left to finish her bachelor’s degree, after graduation she plans to attend graduate school in Tampa to continue learning about Marine life.