I get the question all the time, "Clay what do you do at SeaWorld?" My answer always is, well I work with animals, but that's not the whole story. I am apart of a very special group of people, we are called the Animal Ambassador Team and our base camp is at SeaWorld San Antonio's Animal Connections Conservation Center. We talk to hundreds of guests a day about conservation efforts, fun animal facts, and how you can work alongside wildlife to better our world. But then again that's still not my whole day, I have a lot of other responsibilities, not only with the animals, but with the whole park. You see at night I change out of my blue polo shirt and shorts, and put on my black jeans, pearl snap red shirt, and cowboy hat, because I have an awesome night job at Shamu Rocks.
So let's see what a typical day in the life of Clay has to offer!
My morning starts at 8 AM sharp. I walk in the back door of the Animal Connections Conservation Center and say hi to my good friend Susie (pictured above) the umbrella cockatoo. Now in the morning our first thing we have to do is prepare all the animal's diets. That goes from cutting fruits and vegetables for our Black and White Ruffed Lemurs to getting some meat ready for our Southern Ground Hornbill, Newman. While one person handles the job of cutting diets, the other people are responsible for taking care of our reptiles, which includes misting and feeding all of our cold-blooded team members and doing morning sessions with our various birds. Then it is outside to our tortoise habitat to give Henry his morning breakfast, along with a morning training session. 8:30, it's time to meet with the team in our office to discuss the day and everything we have planned. We discuss team news, animal training plans, special events our animals have been asked to attend, and any education programs we are a part of that day. I work with an amazing group of people who make the hardest task seem like a walk in the park. After the meeting it is time to split up the team, so we can get most of our projects accomplished. I usually go to birdhouse to work with a wallaby, porcupine, owl, spoonbill and Newman the southern ground hornbill. Now working with them doesn't just mean feeding, I clean their habitats, make sure they are in tip top shape, and do various training sessions. The sessions could be as easy as me just sitting by the pool with the spoonbills, to training a complex behavior with Newman for our Creepy Creatures show in October. At 10:30 AM, I find myself at our lemur habitat saying good morning to Bitaka and Kintana. Lemurs are very messy, so cleaning their habitat takes a little longer than some of our other habitats. Around 11 AM our team takes some of our Animal Ambassadors up to the front of the park to greet guests as they enter. Everyone is always surprised to see such amazing exotic animals at SeaWorld. We love telling our guests about the animals and that SeaWorld is not just about animals in the ocean, but conservation of animals all over the world. 11:45 AM, it's time for another round of sessions and feeds with our animals, then it's off to one of my favorite times of the day, lunch! Can you believe it's only noon? I know my day seems pretty full already, but I have a whole other half to go. The second half of the day is just as fun as the first half. During the afternoon we do our Meet An Ambassador shows at the Conservation Center, where we talk to guests about the animals and give them the opportunity to come up and get up close with our Animal Ambassadors. We do three to four shows a day. 2 PM, it's time to take Susie over to the Sea Star Theatre to practice her brand new loop behavior. As my afternoon winds down, it's time to go do a last round of sessions at Birdhouse around 3:30 PM. My day as Clay might be over, but my night as Cactus Clay is just about to begin.
After I leave SeaWorld, around 5 PM, I go and grab a small bite to eat for dinner and then it's back to get ready for Shamu Rocks. Shamu Rocks is our Summer Nights Shamu Show, I get to be apart of the biggest party during Summer Nights, the Shamu Rocks pre-show. During the pre-show I hangout with the crowd, have some fun, and even give out a very large Shamu plush to a lucky rocker. The show is high energy and a great way to end your expedition at SeaWorld. After the show it's time to head home, looking at the clock it's about 9:30 PM.
My days might be long, but they are a ton of fun and I wouldn't trade my life with anyone else. But the greatest thing is, the next day I get to do it all over again. So no, I don't just work with animals or just host a show, I work at SeaWorld and every day is an adventure!
Post by Clay Carabajal