From the Rainforest to the Indo-Pacific, our diverse array of exhibits are home to thousands of plants and animals. In celebration of National Zookeeper Appreciation Week, we’re introducing you to some of the stellar staff that keep our exhibits and living collection in perfect health!
Meet Aimee Milarski, an Aviculturist.
How long have you been at the Aquarium?
Almost 2 years.
What interested you to pursue your current career path?
When I was 14-years-old, a friend and I decided to start volunteering at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. I was hooked from the start. I overcame my fear of public speaking by offering frequent tours to visitor groups, providing a 30-minute raptor encounter, and participating in the outdoor free-flight show.
When I turned 18, I had graduated to an intern status and was began to learn more about husbandry. My internship at the National Aviary led me to a seasonal position in the Pittsburgh Zoo and another internship the Animal Rescue League's wildlife rehabilitation center in Verona, PA. When it was time for college, my declared major became Organismal Biology and Ecology and my free time was still spent with the National Aviary, Pittsburgh Zoo, and ARL wildlife center.
Briefly describe for us your day-to-day:
Busy, busy, busy! I help care for the birds and mammals in the Rain Forest and the Puffin/Alcid exhibit. With all of successful breeding in the exhibits, spring and summer are the most fun-filled times of year for the aviculturists.
Favorite Aquarium memory?
First thing in the morning, when I would check on the birds in the Alcid Exhibit, I would look down into the Wings in the Water exhibit. Right before all of the exhibit lights would come on, I would watch the rays swim. As they swam, their undulations in the water would interrupt the light and create the most remarkable patterns on any reflective surface around the exhibit. It was quite a stunning sight.
Next big project you’re working on?
I am currently working on breeding protocols for the Alcid exhibit, with a primary focus on the Atlantic Puffin.
This is one of the most difficult questions to ask a keeper! One animal in particular that holds a very special place in my heart is one of our Atlantic Puffins named Steve.
Stay tuned for more National Zookeeper Appreciation Week features!