Lehigh Valley Zoo
Year zoo career began:
Alyssa Kess is an African American Animal Keeper who began her career in 2019 and currently works at the Lehigh Valley Zoo. Some of her daily tasks include animal husbandry (cleaning, diets, enrichment, training) and educating the public through keeper chats. In the future, she would like to stay within an AZA zoo and one day work with snow leopards (or see one). Currently, Alyssa works with Barnyard animals, reptiles, amphibians, penguins, and giraffes! Outside of work, some of Alyssa’s hobbies include horseback riding and dancing!
Growing up, Alyssa was a fan of Steve Irwin, visiting her local zoo with her family, and watching animal/nature shows. Although she didn’t have a lot of minority zoo keepers to look up to at the time, her family supporting her dreams meant everything to her. She was able to research other keepers who looked like her and that helped boost her self-confidence. Earning her high school diploma in 2016, Alyssa went on to a 4 year college in upstate New York earing a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology in May of 2020.
Her favorite part of her job on the animal care side is creating enrichment and holding training sessions because she is able to build relationships with the animals she works with! On the guest side of things, she enjoys being able to educate the public about the animals with the hopes of inspiring others to learn more and take part in the conservation efforts! Advice she would like to pass along is to take as many volunteer opportunities and internships as you can!