Chelsea Sungmee Rim
Black American/ Korean
Year zoo career began:
Chelsea is both an Animal Interpreter and Animal Ambassador Keeper at the Memphis Zoo where she balances the roles of both a zookeeper and educator. She provides daily husbandry and enrichment for 50 species of animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates. Her team heavily focuses on daily outreach and guest engagement; this includes pop-up encounters, animal VIP experiences and media appearances. Chelsea is hoping to continue to grow as an animal trainer and interpreter and continue her professional development with conferences and certifications such as animal training.
Chelsea spent most of her childhood with her nose in animal books or with her eyes glued to Animal Planet and National Geographic. She thought the only way to work with animals was to become a veterinarian but once she explored her interests in high school and college, she realized the opportunities she had to nurture her dreams. She graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Natural Resource Ecology and Management with a focus in Wildlife Ecology. Chelsea worked at several unpaid internships including at Chimp Haven, Children’s Animal Center at Fossil Rim and a large carnivore marine mammal education internship at Memphis Zoo. After living in Melbourne, Australia for some time, she found her current job at the Memphis Zoo.
Chelsea’s favorite part of her job is animal training and visibly impacting visitors with animal outreach. She finds the fundamentals of operant conditioning allow her and the animals to speak the same language, even if for just a brief period. Additionally, she finds the intimate experience where a guest learns something new priceless every time. Chelsea advises to talk to people! Don’t be afraid to reach out to others, whether it’s a zoo, aquarium, or even your cousin’s friend’s nephew that works with animals!