Not a team player? Maybe working with animals is your calling!
For those who think working with animals is better than having to work with other people, think again! At least your colleagues in the office will not bite you when they are in a bad mood.
We met up with Illysha Natasha Bte Rahim, to find out what her job as an animal show presenter entails.
Tell us more about yourself.
I have always loved presenting. In school, I was always the emcee. So when I saw this job, it was more of the presenter, rather than the animal trainer aspect, that I was attracted to. I started out presenting first, since I was only 18 then.
Describe a typical day at work.
Well it starts in the morning, with me washing the dens and cleaning the animals’ poop. Then I feed them and once they’re fed, some of us take them out for token feedings or shows, while the rest of us bring them around for the “Animal Encounters” segment around the zoo.
What are some of the memorable experiences you’ve had as a full-time animal show presenter?
When I first started training animals, I was tasked to train this spider monkey that was quite young and she was the very first animal that I successfully trained.
When I was transferred to the animal training department at River Safari, I had to let her go and it was very sad for me. I cried so much!
What is it like working with monkeys? Are they easy to train?
It is pretty easy to train monkeys! They are like little children – as long as you show them that you love them and they respect you, they will listen to you.
But there are times they behave like little brats and just bite you. You have to pretend it did not hurt or they will do it again!
What are some of the challenges you face as a full-time animal show trainer?
Apart from the bites I get sometimes, there are some days when the shows did not go smoothly because the animals refuse to cooperate. The guests may come after you for an answer because you are the emcee for the show.
Or at times when we cancel shows because of the rain and guests boo at us, all you can do is continue to apologise.
What motivates you in your work?
Doing your show and seeing the people happy, clapping, and cheering and getting the feeling that you’re appreciated [motivates me].
What advice would you give to youths considering a career as a full-time animal show presenter?
For this job, it really depends on the individual because we’ve had a lot of young teenagers who come over to join us, but didn’t stay long because they cannot take the job scope.
There are a lot of scripts that you’ll have to memorise for the various animal shows and feeding sessions, but once you get that part done, it’s actually pretty all right!
Educational requirements: Minimum of GCE ‘N’ level examinations
Qualities needed: You must be passionate about wildlife, have excellent presentation skills and an outgoing personality.
Salary range: The starting pay for an animal show trainer/presenter is $1,500 per month.
Working hours: Shift work, with about 44 hours per week.
Career prospects: As you progress, you can work your way up from an animal show trainer/presenter to a supervisor, and eventually, a manager.
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