emily with elephant

A Summer at the Zoo: How Emily Koch pursued her love for large animals as Elephant Intern 

Junior Emily Koch (Applied Agricultural Economics; Oldenburg, IN) has always had a love for animals. Growing up on a cattle farm, Emily has first hand experience working with larger animals and an appreciation for the work that goes into raising them. In an effort to broaden future horizons, Emily spent her summer at the Indianapolis zoo as an Elephant intern. “I wanted to narrow down my hopeful career path by having the opportunity to work with large animals.” 

Emily first learned of the internship opportunity when she visited the career fair. After applying, she completed a series of phone interviews and was offered the position. Located in the elephant department, Emily has been able to work alongside many different elephant trainers at the Indy Zoo.  

Additionally, Emily has assisted in delivering daily Elephant chats. “This gives me the opportunity to interact with the public and teach them about these amazing animals. I have also gotten to observe and participate in many different procedures of many different species.” 

emily with elephant
During her time as an intern, Emily has also conducted a research project where she observes elephants in different social groupings. “I have researched many different elephant behaviors and the reasons behind them. Throughout the summer, the female elephants have been fighting for the dominant role of the matriarch. I have seen their relationships develop and change throughout my time at the zoo.” 

When asked to share one of the most interesting aspects of her internship, Emily explains, “The Indianapolis Zoo has the first two African Elephant females in the world to have successful calves via Artificial Insemination. It has been an amazing experience to be involved in such a historic program for conservation of elephants. Growing up on a cattle farm it was amazing to observe the similarities and differences between the two. It was very interesting to learn how zoo facilities operate behind the scenes.” 

 As her internship comes to an end, Emily is thankful for the valuable experiences and life lessons she learned along the way. “I have gotten to work with many different personalities during my time at the Indy Zoo. This experience has taught me how to be successful in any work environment.”