Houghton Mifflin English

Personal Narrative

Working At The Museum Of Science

By Calli C.

“Wow.” That was the only word I could think of as I stepped through the doorway of the Live Animal Center in the Museum of Science. I felt honored to be one of nine kids selected for an internship there. I had visited this part of the museum before, but now I'd get to see it from the inside. I flashed my pass at the security guard and smiled. It was my first day, and I was excited!

“Reeah, reeah,” a screech owl called as I passed its cage. That seemed to be a personal welcome. Soon I found the other student interns and our instructors. For the first week of the internship, we studied reptiles, birds, mammals, and amphibians. We also learned about handling the animals and basic tasks such as how to clean a cage.

One of my first experiences involved the screech owl. I cleaned its cage as Bunny, an instructor, watched. First, I got the necessary supplies. Then I reached into the cage and pressed my finger into the back of the owl's legs. It immediately stepped onto my finger. I marveled at how well it understood what to do. I lifted the owl out of the cage and into a carrying case. Then I cleaned the cage. When I put the owl back in, I felt a motherly sense of caring for it. I seemed to belong with these animals.

After the first week, we interns started doing real work, even wearing the red aprons that the museum staff wore. We kept learning about animals while doing jobs such as carrying and spreading mulch and huge branches for a new exhibit of rare monkeys. I was most excited about our main task: getting to know one animal really well, helping to care for it, and finally presenting that animal to the public in the demonstration hall. I chose a kestrel, a small bird the size of a pigeon but with the shape of a falcon. His name was Donalbain. When I first saw him, I said, “He's beautiful!” He had blue, brown, black, and white feathers and powerful-looking talons. His hooked beak gave him a regal look. Slowly, Donalbain and I got acquainted.

One day as I reached into his cage to grab the jess (the slip of leather tied to his ankle), Donalbain took off and started flying around the room . “Kestrel out!” I cried. Chris, one of the instructors, almost caught Donalbain's jess, but then the bird flew off. After more attempts to catch him, Bunny got Donalbain to land on her hand. I was relieved but still shaken. How did I let that kestrel get away?

The next day I was nervous. What if Donalbain tried to escape again? Lo and behold, he did, but I grabbed his jess and he landed on my hand, crying loudly. “Whew!” I thought. “Crisis averted.”

Soon the big day of the live animal demonstration came. I placed Donalbain in his carrying case and put on my official red apron of the Museum of Science. We interns transported our animals to the demonstration hall. Little kids rushed up to look in the cases. Then, one by one, we took our animals out of the cages, showed them to the public, and talked about each one. I could hear oohs and aahs as I lifted Donalbain from his cage. I answered questions and even posed for some pictures with my kestrel. I felt proud of this handsome creature and how well we worked together.

I was sad to return Donalbain to his cage for the last time. As the internship ended, I knew I would miss every single animal at the museum. They had truly become my friends.

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