Year zoo career began:
Mia Medellin is a zoologist from Houston, Texas. She currently works in the carnivore section of the mammal’s department at the Dallas Zoo. Mia is Mexican American, and was born and raised in Texas. All throughout her years of grade school, her end goal was always to work with animals. Like most, Mia took the traditional path of thinking she wanted to be a veterinarian, so she took animal-science based electives in high school and even joined Future Farmers of America to further her knowledge.
Being from Texas, Mia’s main focus has always been on large animals throughout high school and even college, but she knew she wanted something more. When it came down to really finalizing what career she wanted to have, she knew that she wanted to work with exotic animals. Something about caring for baby pandas or performing a surgery on a lion fascinated her. Although the thought of becoming a veterinarian was always something she thought she wanted to do; it wasn’t until college that Mia truly realized that school was a lot harder than she had originally thought. Not just scholastically, but financially and mentally. She was juggling 3 jobs to support herself, and active in a sorority which all got to be very exhausting. As college went on, she really had to stop and decide what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Mia knew an additional 4 years of school was not in the cards. She decided to drop her pre-vet concentration and add a science minor. This decision was honestly one of the best things she ever did for herself. In doing this, it allowed her to take courses in animal science that she could have never gotten into if it wasn’t for the new minor. She even got to widen her knowledge on other sciences as well.
At that point in her life, zookeeping started to interest Mia. Not only was it more hands on when working with exotics, but it also allowed her the opportunity to aid in conservation around the world. During her final semester of school, Mia applied for an internship at the Dallas Zoo and got the opportunity to intern for the carnivore section in animal operations.
The road to get her foot in the door at the Dallas Zoo was not an easy one for Mia. Because her choice of majors in school meant that her classmates were primarily Caucasian, there never was a place she truly felt that she fit in. Also, being a first-generation Hispanic college student who wanted to work with lions and tigers was not very common either. Even her family was nervous about whether she was following the correct path or not. However, Mia always felt that she had made the right decision for her own future. The internship ended in December of 2020, and she was offered a job in January 2021. Mia feels that she owes everything to her friends and family who pushed her to be here, and she can’t wait to see the different animals and places this career will take her in the future.