Name: Samantha Junker
Department: Carnivore Keeper
Hometown: 29 Palms, California
Animals you train: Jaguar, Malayan Tiger, African Wild dogs, Anatolian Shepherd
Favorite Animal: Hippos! Here at the Houston Zoo, I love the African Wild Dogs.
Special Interests/Hobbies: My time is consumed by my baby! When I’m not running around I like to read and swim. I am also a closet comic junkie. I love everything Marvel!
Education/Training: Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Zoology with a minor in History from UC Santa Barbara
Previous Institutions: One of my first jobs was a Zoo Camp counselor at the Santa Barbara Zoo. I also worked there as a keeper in the bird department. I was able to work with raptors (birds of prey) at the Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
Length of time at Houston Zoo: 2 ½ years in hoofstock and 3 ½ years in carnivores.
Quote: “Animals are not our brothers; they are not our subordinates, either. They are another nation, caught up just like us in the complex web of time and life.” – Henry Beston
Advice to anyone wanting to enter the zoo field: You need experience to get experience – so volunteer! Be willing to work the jobs that not many other people want. Get a degree, it will help you go further. Zoos are starting to require a Bachelor’s degree.
Best animal story: It was one of those very cold days and I was cleaning out Capybara enclosure. It was so cold that I didn’t really want to make the trek out to the staff room to take my break. I just hunkered down in the barn with a heater and took my break between the Capybaras. That was the best break I’ve ever taken.
Why I like this department: I work with some of the best people there are. We are a very close knit team and it is a very positive environment to work in.