I have a love/hate relationship with zoos.  I love that they educate people about habitat destruction and over-fishing, etc.  I hate seeing animals that belong in the wild penned in tiny enclosures, neurotically pacing back and forth.

My junior year in high school I was trying to decide what career I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life.  I narrowed it down to aviation and either zoology or marine biology.  My mom liked to joke that my career choices went from A to Z.  My dad told me that I'd never make any money as a marine biologist, and thought I would have better job opportunities as a pilot.  He obviously didn't know any pilots, or anything about the aviation industry.

I'm actually pretty grateful  my dad did steer me towards aviation.  When my first airline went bankrupt, as they are quite known to do, I spent some time volunteering at the zoo.  At first, it was really interesting.  I enjoyed going into the enclosures with the animals, and being there before the public arrived.

This wasn't a big city zoo, but actually a camel breeder that decided to branch out and have some other animals.  Other than camels and zebras, most of the animals were petting zoo type animals.  I would clean out their enclosures, which were very small.  Most of them were penned in areas smaller than the size of a room in your house.  Dirt floor, no natural habitat, you get the idea.

After awhile, I found myself dreading the trip to the zoo.  Why was I driving an hour from home to feel sorry for the animals and pick up their poop, and I wasn't even getting paid to do it?  Upon further thought, it made me thankful that I had made the right career choice.  My paycheck didn't depend on shoveling excrement every day.  I would have enjoyed the close relationships with the animals, but having to clean up after them day after day would have become old very quickly.

As a pilot, I occasionally work with animals.  I don't have to shovel excrement, but I do have to listen to it once in awhile from know it all captains.  But for the most part, I'm happy with my career choice.  And as usual, Dad knew better than I did what was best for me.  Thanks Dad, I couldn't have done it without you.

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