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Please Don’t Bang On the Glass – Realities of a Zoo Volunteer

Rita Poussaint Nethersole is a volunteer animal care, education volunteer, and docent for the Franklin Park Zoo. Rita used to live in Dorchester (Grove Hall), across from the Zoo but moved 13 years ago. She worked at UMass Boston, and she was the chair of the Grove Hall Safe Neighborhood Initiative (GHSNI). When preparing to speak at TedxBeaconStreet’s Salon at the Franklin Park Zoo, she knew what she wanted to say.

“I thought about what I wanted to say, but then I focused on what needed to be said,” Rita said in an interview following her talk.

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Rita, who is involved in many community activities, has a passion for making connections between zoo guests and the animals at the Zoo.

Concerned about negative (human) behaviors when guests try to interact with the animals, her presentation focused on how to have a great zoo visit by allowing enough time to really experience the animals and even allow the animals to become curious about the guest. She also emphasized the seasonal aspects of zoo visits, encouraged an open-minded/open–hearted approach to the zoo, its animals, and even other guests, and discussed diversity in zookeeping and animal conservation. Nethersole challenged guests to look beyond the obvious level and to connect to the zookeepers and volunteers to add dimension to their zoo visit.

At the core of her talk, Rita focused on showing people how to enjoy the zoo, whilst being respectful of the animals and their environment. Next time you’re at the Zoo, take the time to read the descriptions of the animals and to observe and make connections with the animals. And please do not bang on the glass! : )

Thank you, Rita, for being an incredible component to our TEDxBeaconStreet Salon event, we can’t wait to see all you accomplish going forward!