This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we wanted to introduce you to a few of our Zoo team members and get their insights on their fields. There are so many ways for women and girls to use their science degrees to impact the people and animals around them!
Meet Kim Castrucci, one of our Curators of Animals! To read more of our Women in Science profiles, check out this link.
Education: Bachelors of Science in Biology, minor in Psychology from the University of Central Florida
How did you choose your field? I kind of feel like I chose this career as much as it chose me. I started doing an internship at a local zoo when I went to college and just fit right in. I loved the keepers that I worked with, and I felt like I was making an impact by directly proving a better life to the animals I cared for. About a year later I went back to complete a second internship so I could finish out my electives for college and found out instead there was a keeper opening in the Ambassador Animal area where I interned previously. The keepers worked with management to get me hired. I ended up working as a full-time keeper in my last semester of college!
Did or do you have any female mentors or role models in your field? If so, how did they shape your career journey? I feel like a lot of keepers in my generation grew up watching Steve Irwin, which played a huge part in my interest in animals. Now that time has moved on, I continue to follow Bindi Irwin and just adore her. Not only for her ability to raise a family and continue to play such a huge role in conservation but also for her ability to project such positivity and kindness.
How would you describe your work at the Zoo? I have always seen myself as a caretaker and someone who can ensure the animals I care for have everything they need and more to the best of my ability. As I have moved up at Brevard Zoo, I have realized that my role has shifted some. I feel like I am in a better position to advocate for the animals I care for in a larger way when it comes to how we manage them. I am able to implement changes and support the keeper staff to ensure they have everything they need to accomplish their jobs effectively and help them now also care for their animals the best they can.
What do you enjoy about your job? The best part of my day is and will always be spending time with the animals. Any chance I get to go see them, maybe give them an extra snack, will always instantly put a smile on my face. Overall, though, I feel very fulfilled in my job. Even if I don’t get much animal time in a day, if at the end of the day I have allowed the keeper staff to accomplish the things they wanted to do for their animals and help out any way I can is still a win for me.
What are some challenges about your work? I would say the most challenging part of my work is compassion fatigue. I care so deeply about the animals and humans that work here that I would quite literally do whatever I could for them. Knowing that older animals will pass away and having such a close bond to them is a hard, but necessary part of the job. At the end of the day, I believe that every animal presents us with a learning opportunity, and that learning happens until the very last day and beyond. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be part of something so amazing but can be taxing at the same time.
What advice do you have for girls or women who want to work in your field? My advice is to give it all you got! Keep doing internships and find what your passion is. This may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but I would argue everyday it is the most fulfilling. If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life. Find your passion and chase it. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen quickly, good things are worth the wait. Sometimes it just comes down to being in the right place at the right time and trust you’ll get there eventually.
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.