Happy National Zookeeper Appreciation Week!

We’re celebrating the National Aquarium’s animal care experts, including aquarists, aviculturists, herpetologists, curators, veterinarians and marine mammal staff, who have dedicated their lives to providing the highest quality of animal care. Throughout the week, we’ll introduce you to a few members of our incredible team!

Published July 20, 2015

amber-white-animal-rescue

Meet Amber White, National Aquarium Animal Rescue’s stranding coordinator.

How long have you been at the Aquarium?
I have been with the National Aquarium for almost 8 years. I started as an intern in the Animal Programs department working with parrots, lizards and snakes. I moved over to the Marine Animal Rescue side almost four years ago.

What interested you in pursuing your current career path?
When I was younger, I was the girl who repeatedly told people that she wanted 'to be a dolphin trainer.' Ha! I laugh at that now because I would not trade my career path for anything. I am admittedly not as well versed in biology, as many fellow animal trainers are, however I was very interested in psychology, and began diving into those classes instead. Animal behavior and human behavior are not far from one another and both fascinate me. I have had the privilege of working with so many different and amazing animals throughout my 8 years, and I cannot wait to see what my future holds in this field!

Briefly describe your day-to-day:
What makes animal rescue so interesting is that at any given moment my day could change into a response, relay of animals from another facility, conducting necropsies on deceased animals for a better understanding of why they died, or caring for the many patients that come through our doors. My typical day is filled with sea turtles, at the moment. All are in varying stages of rehabilitation, so daily feeding and making sure each gets their proper medication is a priority. Checking their weights, scrubbing and backwashing the pool systems, and tracking their behavior is also fairly routine. Since we have started our summer outreach and educational programming, I am also busy planning and organizing with my volunteers to visit multiple venues to educate the public on animals we see off the coast of Maryland and how they can help these animals. I also take my turn in responding to our 24/7 hotline that the public can call if they see an animal in the wild or a distressed animal. Like I mentioned before, you never quite know what your day will hold...but it's exciting no matter what!

What’s your favorite Aquarium memory?
I have so very many, I am not sure I could pick just one. So, I will tell you a few smaller ones! First, was when I was able to assist the Rain Forest staff in raising Xeno, a male two-toed sloth. Second, would be having the opportunity to assist a fellow rescue facility in Cape Cod with a large cold-stun sea turtle event in their area. I spent a week with their team assisting with medical exams and daily care of over 200 turtles. In these cases, it was such a humbling experience to see how teams can really work together to make a difference. It is everyone's end goal, and there are so many ways to achieve it. I am just lucky to have been a part of those! Lastly, would be when I had the opportunity to help get our 20 blacktip reef sharks ready for the new Blacktip Reef exhibit. It involved getting into the water in various stages of dive gear, allowing them to eventually learn what having a diver in the water would be like. My parents thought I had lost my sanity, but I just couldn't wait to lie at the bottom and watch the sheer grace of those animals!

Tell us about the next big project you're working on.
Simply preparing for another season of sea turtle patients is quite large. Making sure all of our pool systems are functioning properly and that water quality is under control and evaluating last year in comparison with others to see how we fared. My main goal for the upcoming season is to figure out a way to really hone in on sea turtle behavior while in rehabilitation—learning more about aggression, swim patterns, feeding and the intelligence of these animals while they are in our care. Each turtle has very distinct traits, and being able to better assess them during their stay with us will add a great deal of knowledge to how we can better care for them in the future.

What’s your favorite animal?

Again, this is such a hard question, but I am quite fond of giraffes. I am not quite sure if it’s the patterns or the similar hair color, but I am always drawn to them.

Check back tomorrow to meet another member of our animal care team!

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