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Anela Medeiros

Ethnicity:

Biracial (Native Hawaiian/ White)

Current position: 

Animal Keeper, Primates & Carnivores

Current facility:

Sacramento Zoo

Year zoo career began:

2013

Anela Medeiros is an animal keeper at the Sacramento Zoo in the primate and carnivore sections. She is responsible for diet preparation, enrichment, training and more for a variety of primates from chimpanzees and orangutans to three different species of lemurs. Her favorite primates that she works with are Wolf’s guenons and orangutans.

Anela was raised in a household that supported her love for exploring nature and reading lots of books. Neither of her parents attended college but they were both strong supporters in her journey to gain a degree and her mother is also an animal lover. Anela attended California State University- Stanislaus, during which she volunteered at the Oakland Zoo, worked at the Lindsay Wildlife Experience, and spent time in the field assisting graduate students with research. Halfway through her college career, Anela was hired as a part time animal keeper at the Lindsay Wildlife Experience which jumpstarted her career in zookeeping. She completed a senior capstone thesis in 2018 by writing a full published scientific article on injection training with a North American porcupine before earning a Bachelor of Science in organismal biology. After graduating, Anela became an apprentice animal keeper and a temporary float keeper at the Oakland Zoo before moving to her current position.

Anela loves the problem-solving aspect of her job. It take a lot of brain power and creative thinking to be a keeper, because you could be training a new behavior and shaping it from a small basic movement, managing a large social group of primates, or creating the most delicious and efficient way to get medications into an animal. Anela’s favorite animal is the Hamadryas baboon because they have an incredibly dynamic and complex social life that leads to a lot of unique interactions. Anela’s advice to aspiring animal keepers is to reach out to professionals, cohorts, and everyone to start building your network as early as possible. Networking is key because the zookeeping world is smaller than you think.

Anela has struggled with being biracial, figuring out how to label herself and what box she fits into. Her father’s family is Hawaiian, and she was raised to be very proud of her heritage and culture but always felt like she looked out of place due to being “hapa” or mixed, as her grandmother put it. In college, Anela leaned away from her cultural pride and started to let people assume her ethnicity because trying to explain it was exhausting and too complex to put into words. After reaching out to other biracial/ mixed race keepers, Anela has found she’s not alone in this feeling and through discourse about their experiences she’s started to feel a bit more like she has a clear place and has rediscovered her pride in her heritage. Anela has realized how important it is to have these conversations and she wants to be a part of a community that facilitates and raises up minorities in this field.