Whatever happened to a relaxing summer? Hot, humid North Carolina days are perfect for an afternoon lounging by the pool or trying to surf at the coast. However, not all students take a vacation during the three-month summer break. Some students, like Zachary Fry, a junior Biological Sciences major with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, tackle multiple internships and a part-time summer job.
Originally from Chambersburg, Pa., Fry spent the summer as an Animal Care Intern at the Carolina Tiger Rescue (CTR) in Pittsboro, N.C. and the Head Intern at the Arthropod Zoo at the Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. He also works part-time for University Housing as a student worker. And in his spare time, Fry is a yoga instructor at Carmichael Gym.
Even though it takes about 40 minutes to drive to Pittsboro from NC State, Fry really enjoyed his time spent at CTR. “I wanted to intern at Carolina Tiger Rescue because big carnivores are awesome,” he said. “I've always wanted to work in the preservation of exotic animals and CTR both brings you face-to-face with the biggest species of cats and teaches you about how to save them.”
Interns at CTR spend a minimum of 192 hours on the 55-acre wildlife sanctuary working with the animals and nonprofit staff members. As an Animal Care Intern, Fry spent his time filling water bowls and feeding whole chicken, rat and mouse carcasses to the wildcats, including the usual big cats like tigers, lions and cougars, as well as caracals, servals, ocelots, bobcats, binturongs and kinkajous. His internship also included cage cleaning, compound maintenance, informal animal care classes, animal enrichment and veterinary care.
“Interns have to write essays once a week and think of new activities for the tigers, lions, leopards and other cats,” he said. “There's also a lot of physical labor like pulling weeds in the enclosure and taking down fences, but seeing the animals explore their changed habitats is definitely worth it.”
Since Fry spent the first half of his summer interning on the fourth floor of the Natural Sciences Museum in the Arthropod Zoo, working with much larger animals took a little getting used to. “My first time filling water dishes for the big cats on my own was especially traumatizing,” he said. “One of the bigger tigers named Christian was having a bad day and was growling at me from the far corner of his enclosure. He didn't move when I approached the fence, so I crouched down to reach for his water dish. As soon as I took my eyes off of him, he ran over, slammed his face against the fence, and roared so loud it was like a jet was taking off.”
As his eight-week internship at CTR winds down, Fry looks forward to the upcoming school year and his future after graduation. “Right now I plan on going into the Peace Corps and traveling overseas to work on endangered species and habitat conservation projects abroad,” he said. “The internship at CTR helped me get acquainted with some of the animals that live in much of the vanishing habitats throughout Africa and Asia, many of which are disappearing faster than their homes are.”
This fall, you can find Fry staffing the front desk with Assignments Coordinators Evelyn Buck and Pennie Graham at the University Housing Office in Pullen Hall. He’s been answering phones and fielding housing questions as a student worker for almost a year now. This August, Fry plans to move to the Global Village, where it’s “easier to get involved on campus and meet people.” When off-the-clock, he enjoys drinking coffee under the stairs in the Park Shops at Port City Java or watching time travel dramas like Doctor Who or Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
To learn more about CTR, formerly the Carnivore Preservation Trust, visit their website at www.carolinatigerrescue.org. Photos of Emerson the tiger and Destiny the caracal submitted by Carolina Tiger Rescue.