US interns Kyanna Cadwallader, left, and Haley Mae Danks at Penguin Cove at the National Aquarium in Napier. Supplied.
Two United States university students, who have just spent a month at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, say the experience has been "world-class" and would encourage other students to do the same.
Kyanna Cadwallader, who is studying environmental and political sciences at Goucher University, Maryland, and animal science major Haley Mae Danks, from Michigan State University’s Lyman Briggs College, have just completed internships at the Napier City Council-owned facility.
The pair, whose study was arranged through Massey University and USAC (University Studies Abroad Consortium), are part of a larger group of students at the end of a six-week Study Abroad programme.
Their first two weeks were spent studying “on the road”, starting in Queenstown and with stints on the West Coast and in Taupo, before arriving in Napier where they have lived for the past four weeks.
Working with penguins, terrapins and kiwi has been the coolest part of her experience, says Kyanna. “The staff at the National Aquarium are not afraid to let us join in - I’ve learned a lot by being here.”
She said she would recommend Napier as a great place to other students, and hopes it will help her achieve one of her current goals - an internship at the US National Aquarium in Baltimore.
Haley Mae is working towards becoming a veterinarian. She said even though it has become clear through her Napier experience that “fifty per cent of working with animals is cleaning up after them”, it has helped confirm her career aspirations.
“To have this exciting hands-on experience has just reinforced my belief that I want to work with animals," said Danks, who hopes to return one day and spend a few weeks travelling the country.
The Aquarium has hosted students from throughout New Zealand and around the world for many years, some spending anywhere from a few weeks to a few months at the facility, according to manager, Rob Yarrall.
“They bring a fresh outlook to what we’re doing, but of course the main reason they come here is to learn from us. They gain an insight into how an aquarium works and gain a much fuller picture of the New Zealand environment in general.”
Following an intensive audit process, the facility recently achieved accreditation under the ZAA (Zoo Aquarium Association of Australia and New Zealand) Accreditation Programme, the first aquarium in New Zealand to receive this recognition.
This accreditation is only awarded to zoos and aquariums that can demonstrate the highest of standards, and commitment to, animal welfare.