Hello folks. *side-eyes date on last post*
Uhhh, well, this is awkward. I don't even know-- do people still read blogs?
At one time, I wanted to be your ultimate resource for all things Zoo. Careers, animals, animal welfare questions, environmental conservation. It was so important to me that I share with you what I've spent a career learning.
It still is. But I don't know that this is the best platform to do it on anymore.
I'm thinking of archiving this blog and creating a website for my professional writing instead. I want the information here to be available to those who need it, and I'd even love to still be available for questions, for folks who have them. But I no longer feel that a blog, specifically THIS blog, is the best way to reach the people who need reaching.
Last year, I did something drastic. I quit my job at the zoo.
My career, like everyone else's, has been full of ups and downs. After a particularly awful down (almost as if in answer to it), the universe dropped an opportunity in my lap that I found impossible to refuse. Especially when it seemed I might be the only person capable of taking it. And so, late last year, my husband and I took over a large horse ranch.
It's the perfect marriage of everything I've ever done. Animal husbandry? Plenty of that. Creativity? Plenty of that, too. I built/ painted/ lettered our signs myself. We're still in the process of cleaning up the property, as the former owners left us a big mess, but they also left us a new family-- the dozens of boarders whose horses call this place home.
It's been a really exciting opportunity, not the least of which is that it's giving me the chance to have my OWN zoo.
We've got a lot of land, and I've got a lot of experience. I already have a small collection of animal ambassadors, and I spend most of my day, seven days a week, cleaning and feeding and, my favorite part, training. I get to train as much as I want, whatever I want-- it's literally my zoological dream come true. No more red tape, no more politics. It's my zoo, I can do whatever I want (within state, federal, and local reason, of course).
Now, the success hasn't gone to my head, don't worry. (Also: I wouldn't really call it success, just yet. We're definitely still getting our feet on the ground). "Whatever I want" mostly just means, whatever I need to do to prepare my animals for their jobs, which will be educating people about animals. The difference is that they're MY animals, not someone else's.
I can't even begin to express how this all makes me feel. I'm sad that I left the zoo, but reassured that I'm still welcome there. (The zoo even donated animals to me for my education programs, which is a pretty big stamp of approval, if you ask me). I'm overwhelmed, frankly, by the day-to-day of running a business and the responsibilities I've given myself (it turns out I am a workaholic). And I'm satisfied, daily, by the things I'm getting to do with my animals, and the progress I'm making. It's been a huge confidence booster, seeing them bond with me, the trust forming, the differences I've made in just a few short months of work. The things I've envied other people getting to do my entire career that are now my daily grind.
Oh, and, despite the work, I still have time to write. I still WANT to write-- no, NEED to write. The drive is still there. I was so worried when we took over that it would go away, that I would be too busy, that I wouldn't want to anymore. But it's still there.
But it does mean that things like this blog are less relevant now (not TO me, but about me, because the title no longer applies, sort of). My life is still in a zoo, it's just now one of my own creation. Still, I'm out of the industry loop now. I won't have the same cutting edge awareness that I did for so long. And it feels wrong to present myself as an expert when in just a couple years (or less), I won't be one anymore.
My focus is shifting. I'm going to concentrate on growing my business, being a better wife/ mother/ daughter/ sister/ aunt/ friend/ and writer, and zoologically speaking? I'm going to shift my brand to training and behavior. So. I may still cross-post things here, if you're around to see them, but don't expect much in the way of updates.
This has been long and rambling but I hope it makes sense and I hope it does the job, which is to say-- I've had a really, really good run at the zoo, but it's time for adventures of my own making. If you so desire, spare some well wishes for your friendly neighborhood zookeeper and know that the well wishing is, always, returned.
Much love and reminder that Rhino Horn Isn't Medicine,