By Connor Bligh, Marketing/PR Intern
As someone who was born and raised in Naples, I do not exaggerate when I say coming to the Zoo was my childhood. Throughout elementary school, I came to the Zoo a couple times a week as a Zoo member with my mom. Heck, I was even featured on a brochure for the Zoo!
As I grew older, my schedule got busier, with school, sports, and clubs completely replacing the spot the Zoo had in my life. My attendance might have vanished, but my passion never did. While my favorite “exhibit” at the time might have been the playground near Black Bear Hammock, I have always had an understanding for what the Naples Zoo stood for. It was not until my first visit back in years, now as a Marketing and PR intern, that I had a full appreciation for it.
The first thing that caught my eye was the first thing I saw. Gone were the small parking lot and koi ponds. Instead, replacing it was a huge paved parking lot with a stone road leading in. While so much has changed, I was glad to see my old favorite, the Bear Loop playground, still standing. Getting a chance to go behind-the-scenes with our keepers was an eye-opener, as well. Everything from the construction of the new animal hospital to behind the stage at Safari Canyon was fair game on the tour. The most important thing I learned on tour? Invest in bug spray.
Now seeing all the conservation work and new buildings being built, my excitement about the Zoo is at an all-time high. Seeing all the smiles and amazement on visitors’ faces brings me back to when I basically lived at the Zoo as a kid. Getting the chance to intern here is truly a dream come true. From being on advertisements to helping make them. Talk about a full circle.
Connor on the Naples Zoo brochure when he was 5 years old.