Lehigh Valley Zoo Conservation Education Department – Hi everyone! My name is Hannah Beville and I am a full-time Educator and Zookeeper at the Lehigh Valley Zoo. I grew up here in the Lehigh Valley but left after high school to pursue a Biology degree from Millersville University in Lancaster, PA. After college, I worked with the Department of Environmental Protection and Penn State Extension with their West Nile Virus program. I took an internship at the zoo in hopes of getting a better understanding of AZA accredited facilities & the role a zoo plays in a community. My career started there as I found a position that allows me to blend all of my interests, passions, and skills at the Lehigh Valley Zoo. I am now the Ambassador (education) Animal Coordinator & Internship Coordinator in the Education Department.
One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to work with so many different taxa. I work with & get the privilege to educate groups on everything from tarantulas to sloths. My favorite animal to work with would have to be our resident Two-toed sloth, Bean. He is a truly unique animal & doesn’t require much work on my end to make people love and care about him & his species. Bean is a great way to spread the message about small consumer changes people can make to help the environment. His name is even related to his conservation message of purchasing Shade Grown coffee with the Rainforest Alliance seal. He does private programs here at the zoo & they are some of my favorite programs to run.
There are many rewarding aspects to my career. I am honored to wear my Lehigh Valley Zoo staff shirt & represent a facility that helped shape my interests and passions at a young age. It is so rewarding to give back to my community through teaching our younger generations. To be a part of a lightbulb moment with a child about indicator species while presenting a frog is one of my favorite teaching moments. To have a conversation with kids about how they can reduce or eliminate the amount of single-use plastic they are using can bring me to tears somedays. I am continually impressed with the foundational knowledge our guests come to the zoo with & excited to get the chance to help expand that for the sake of conservation.
I was the little girl that when asked, “What do you want to do today?” I would say, “Go to the zoo!” but I had never really considered working at one. In college I pursued more “mainstream” career paths before following my heart and landing in my dream career field/ job. There are a lot of good people out there working toward the same mission of protecting animals & habitats with great intentions but, sometimes our perspectives get muddled and opinions are strong. If you are one of those people confused on your opinion of zoos, like I was before my internship, I encourage you to go & visit. Form your own opinions, do your own research, and keep an open mind. AZA accredited zoos & aquariums are leaders in the field of conservation & education. We care so deeply about wild places, wild & captive animals, and conservation of all living things, we have devoted our lives to the mission. Come visit & we will show you!
Written by Hannah Beville
Conservation Educator, Ambassador Animal Coordinator, Internship Coordinator
Lehigh Valley Zoo | Schnecksville, PA