Animal Care Supervisor
Year zoo career began:
Jaime Racalla is an Animal Care Supervisor at the John Ball Zoo where she is involved with both animal care and administrative work. Some days Jaime may be working as a keeper, while on other days she is participating in animal acquisitions, exhibit design, or program planning. She loves that her current position allows her to help her move her zoo forward with new ideas while still working directly with animals. Through her position, Jaime can bring not only her ideas but also the ideas of her animal keepers into the mix to see how the zoo can best inspire their guests to care about wildlife and wild places.
Jaime has always lived in West Michigan, and as a child she was exposed to many pets and family farms. As a teen, Jaime learned that her local zoo, the John Ball Zoo, had a teen volunteer program and she quickly joined. She initially wanted to be a veterinarian, but she was willing and ready to take on any position she could. Jaime worked at the John Ball Zoo as a teen volunteer for one year, an adult animal care volunteer for two years, an animal care intern for one year, a building and grounds seasonal employee for two years, a seasonal zookeeper aide for three years, and a zookeeper for seven years. Jaime was hired into her current supervisor position in 2016. Her variety of experiences led her to complete a Bachelor of Science in Zoology at Michigan State University in 2010.
Jaime’s favorite species is the river otter. They bring charisma and intelligence to anyone’s day, and they can be sassy, goofy, and full of action. Jaime advises aspiring animal care professionals to be willing to work in other zoo departments in the short term. She was able to work paid non-animal positions while volunteering and gaining animal experience. Completing your education will also allow you to develop a solid foundation.