Kimberly Grendzinski ’16 (CAHNR) begins every workday at NYC’s Central Park Zoo by lugging bucket after bucket of fish, some 100 pounds, up two flights of stairs. Waiting at the top of the stairs is a hungry mob of heckling penguins, who crowd her the moment she starts tossing herring. As they try to snap the prizes right out of her hands, they often pinch her forearms and leave a trail of bruises. “The penguins can be jerks, though lovable jerks,” she says, admitting to stealing time from the black-and-whites to train the seals and sea lions, whose smarts make them her favorite species.
Since graduating with an animal science degree, Grendzinski, 26, has worked at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Zoo and now at Manhattan’s Central Park Zoo, with its melee of penguins, puffins, and seals. After working with UConn’s many domestic animals, she found her calling with exotics during a summer internship at Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo, where she dug up rocks to build a new exhibit and trained a bison.
“I was coming home every day smelling awful, and I was like, ‘This is what I want to do.’”