fb-2015Hey everyone! My name is Josh Le, Communications and Media Relations Manager for the Minnesota Zoo. I’m not a super rad zookeeper or veterinarian – although, I’ve always wanted to be one. I work in an office at the Zoo, but I love my job because I have the opportunity to share all of the amazing things going on with our animals here at the Zoo, as well as all of the work the Minnesota Zoo is doing around the world to fight extinction and save animals from disappearing forever.

The Minnesota Zoo has always been a huge part of my life. My parents would bring us here when my sisters and I were younger for strolls along the Tropics Trail in the middle of winter when we needed to burn off some extra energy. I especially remember coming to the Zoo every year for my father’s company holiday party and enjoying the incredible lights display along the Northern Trail with hot chocolate. The Minnesota Zoo ignited my passion for animals and my desire to help protect them in the wild.

I wanted to quickly share one of my most memorable stories about the Zoo. I’m going to take you all back to 1994 when I was in first grade and as you can imagine, I had quite the imagination. It was finally my turn to be “Star of the Week” and I had the chance to share the most important details of my life…my favorite color, sport, color, etc. It was my time to shine. When I was asked by my teacher what my parents did for a living, I proceeded to tell the class that my father was actually a dolphin trainer at the Minnesota Zoo (FYI – he definitely was not a dolphin trainer). In my head, I thought it would be so amazing if it were true. Wishful thinking I suppose. I proceeded to tell my class that because my father worked at the Zoo, I was able to snorkel in Tropical Reef (which was also very, very false). My entire class, including my teacher, believed me! I was one cool kid…until parent teacher conferences came around. When my teacher asked my father how the dolphins were, he gave her the strangest look and then looked at me. I had been outed. You could say that this was a great lesson for me in staying “grounded”…because I was for the next week.

Regardless of the fabricated stories I made up in my head as a child, it is clear the Minnesota Zoo had a strong impact. It inspired me. It connected me to creatures I never imagined could exist. As I grew older, the Zoo remained very close to me. I was the high schooler who went to the Zoo every week to walk around, rather than walking around the mall. I became a Zoo Teen and volunteered with summer Zoo Camps. I worked in the Guest Services Department as a Student Worker, I interned around the Zoo and now I’m in the Marketing and Communications Department. I have even had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala to help a local organization, ARCAS, save wildlife from the illegal pet trade and most recently to Namibia to help spread awareness about the amazing work the Zoo is doing with Save the Rhino Trust to protect the critically endangered black rhino from extinction.

I have so many fond memories about the Zoo and I could share stories all day, but I won’t because I have so many other people’s incredible stories to share. I’m extremely proud to work for an organization that is so inspiring. The Minnesota Zoo exists to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. I invite you and your friends and family to visit the Minnesota Zoo sometime soon and create your own amazing memories. You never know what stories you’ll create to share.