Kelli is a trainer in our Marine Mammals and Birds department who has been with the Aquarium for nearly five years!
This basketball-loving dog mom hails from Commerce, Michigan.
She has participated in some pretty cool projects at the Aquarium — she’s helped the marine mammals learn complex husbandry behaviors, and she even took part in Medusa’s cataract removal surgery.
Get To Know Kelli
What’s your position at the Aquarium:
Where are you from?
How long have you been at the Aquarium?
Five years in September!
Tell us a bit about your background/your life before coming to the Aquarium of Niagara.
I graduated from Central Michigan University with a major in Biology. I completed 3 internships (one being at the Aquarium of Niagara) and a seasonal position at Busch Gardens, Tampa working with small primates and Great Apes! My life before college was all basketball. Basketball was my life & I miss the game to this day!
What inspired you to choose a career in this field?
Swimming with the dolphins at Discovery Cove and visiting SeaWorld in Ohio. Thanks, Mom & Dad!
Have you held any other positions/jobs at the Aquarium?
I completed the Aquarium’s full-time Marine Mammal internship in 2014.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Training complex husbandry behaviors & watching Stryker get the zoomies.
What is something about your job that many people wouldn’t know/realize is part of it?
We are required to pass an annual swim test & annual dive skills class!
What’s one thing you are most proud of accomplishing at the Aquarium?
Being able to participate in the pre and post operative care of Medusa’s cataract removal surgery. It was a very emotional time for me, but I was and still am extremely grateful to have been alongside her during the journey. I was also able to share her success story at an IMATA conference!
Tell us about your life outside of the Aquarium.
I spend the majority of my free time with my precious pup, Wilmer! We like to check out new parks & any dog-friendly places! I always find time to go home to Michigan to see my wonderful family and friends. We enjoy time on the lake, boating & fishing. When I’m feeling ambitious, I like to experiment with new recipes & scrapbook. Lastly, I enjoy visiting other zoos and aquariums when traveling to network & share/learn new ideas!
If you were an aquatic/marine animal, what would you be and why?
Manatee because I enjoy warmth, relaxing & eating!