Meet Rebekah Miller, Marine Mammal Trainer, Dolphin Discovery
How long have you been at the Aquarium?
I just reached my one-year anniversary at National Aquarium and have worked at other facilities, including the Navy Marine Mammal Program, prior to joining the team here.
What interests led you to pursue your current career path?
As a child, I was always very interested in all types of animals, from fish to reptiles and mammals. But the first memory I have of being drawn toward marine mammals was when I saw a special on manatees being affected by boat strikes. It made me feel so sad. I wanted to be able to help this endangered species, and that feeling of wanting to make things better never went away. My first marine mammal volunteer job was working in a stranding and rehabilitation facility, and I found that so rewarding!
I also grew up with a small obsession with Steve Irwin, and was very inspired by his passion and enthusiasm to connect people to animals—which is what I strive to achieve every day.
Briefly describe your day-to-day.
My day-to-day on the marine mammal team has a lot of variety, which is part of what I love about this job! We have different teaching sessions every day that help us care for the animals. Much of our time is spent preparing fish (we check each fish three times before it’s even fed!), cleaning buckets, record keeping, dive cleaning, and generally cleaning anything and everything throughout the day.
What’s your favorite animal?
My favorite animals to work with are sea lions and dolphins! Both are so much fun, versatile, amazingly complex and have taught me so much.
What's the best part of your day?
The best part of my day can vary. Sometimes, it’s a big breakthrough with an animal. Sometimes, it’s our team bonding time, creating enrichment for the animals. Or sometimes, it’s interacting with a guest that I feel I inspired in a positive way.
What advice do you have for someone hoping to pursue a career similar to yours?
My advice to anyone pursuing a career with marine mammals is that persistence and dedication pay off. Most specialists in the field have been passed over several times before receiving their first job, but they did not give up. Also, be flexible. You may not get your dream job at your dream facility right away, but don’t pass on other great experiences in the meantime! It's those jobs that will make you a well-rounded candidate and help you stand out for your future endeavors.
Stay tuned as we highlight more staff for National Zookeeper Appreciation Week!