Meet: Jennifer Cyr-Devine, Zoologist-educator at the Ecomuseum Zoo

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Meet: Jennifer Cyr-Devine, Zoologist-educator at the Ecomuseum Zoo
Why did you choose to become a zoologist?

It’s always been clear for me that I wanted to work with animals. When I was young, I used to say that I wanted to become a “vegetarian” because I wasn’t able to pronounce “veterinarian”. At home, we’ve always had animals. Later in my life, I discovered zoos and the fact that it was possible to work up-close with wild animals in these facilities. This is when I chose the field in which I was going to study. But my passion was divided and another vocation called to be: Teaching. Both my parents are teachers and I witnessed how hard they worked their entire life and how they touched the lives of so many children! My work is the best of both worlds!

How did you start working at the Ecomuseum Zoo?

Life often provides us with interesting opportunities! I followed a Desert Ecology class at McGill University, which was taught at the time by David Rodrigue, the Executive Director of the Ecomuseum Zoo. At that moment, the zoo was looking for a zoologist to work in the education department and he felt I would be a good fit for the job and the team.  I was interviewed by the department coordinator and I got the job. I went for it and have never looked back! I was of course very excited as it would allow me to work directly with animals, but I was also eager to discover the educational aspect of the job and see if I was going to be good at it. From the very beginning I saw the impact that I could have on children, and that’s where I became an addict! I think that working only with animals wouldn’t have the same effect on me. It’s really raising awareness among people of all ages that I enjoy the most!

Is there a special memory that you could share with from your time at the zoo?

There are many! Throughout my childhood, I enjoyed many weekends in the countryside. To me, a frog is something very common. Interesting of course, but very common. Yet in my early days at the zoo, during one of my first presentations, I took out a bullfrog and introduced the kids to the species. They gave me the same reaction as if it was a lion or an elephant! Kids are super interested in nature, but they don’t always have the occasion to discover it. Offering them the opportunity to connect with wildlife and nature, it’s incredible. And believe it or not, we often have the same kind of amazement from adults. These are very precious moments!

Tough question! Which animal is your favorite at the zoo?

Oh boy! I can’t answer that question ... I’ll limit my answer to the animals that are part of the educational program and with whom I work more often. I’ll have to choose Jweep, the Great-horned Owl. But I also love Novio, the Barn Owl, and the American Martens ... See, I can’t pick one! I love them all!

Just one last question: with which species do you dream of working with?

Good question! I think I would choose the great marine mammals. Water is a passion for me, and they are very intelligent animals. There are still so many things that are left to be discovered about them, it’s fascinating!

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