The Security team is made up of 19 dedicated and professional associates who work around the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to contribute to a positive, fun and safe experience at the Zoo. The team keeps an eye out for the well-being of animals, guests, colleagues and property with all safety matters being top of mind. Nearly 200 acres must be looked after so the team covers the landscape via bike patrol, on foot and various carts including an ambulance cart should it be required. Partnering with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department, (who has a sub-station on property) Fire, Police, EMSA and the City of OKC adds to positive experiences for all. Below, Security Supervisor Sophia Palin talks about her job and her team.
Name: Sophia Palin
Title: Security Supervisor
Tenure at the OKC Zoo: 16 years
Residence: Oklahoma City
1. Why is your job important, both to you and in general?
I believe very strongly that the Security Department is an integral part of the Zoo team. With full-time Security Officer/EMTs on staff we’re here to offer aid to our guests and our staff and help to ensure that all have as great an experience as possible. We’re here 24/7 to ensure that the Zoo remains safe and secure even after hours. I have to say that I think that I must be one of the luckiest people around; I get to work in an amazing environment with a lot of really great people.
2. What is the biggest challenge of your job?
The biggest challenge of my job would probably be dealing with medical emergencies. We rarely get anything too serious, but we do get a lot of issues with the heat this time a year.
3. Tell us about the health and wellness initiative you have been putting together for Zoo employees.
I’m currently the point person for a new group that the Zoo has just put together, the Health Initiative Team, or “H.I.T.”. We want to promote a healthier lifestyle for our employees. Long-term, we hope that H.I.T. will be able to create programs that will benefit our guests and the community as well. The Zoo is a perfect environment for folks of all ages to come out and be active.
4. What is your favorite Zoo memory from when you were young?
Not having grown up in Oklahoma, my favorite Zoo memories didn’t happen until I started working here. At the top of the list is working with Judy the elephant. It still tugs at my heart to think about her, she was an amazing animal. I also have some funny stories involving working with the Howler monkeys in the Pachyderm building, and the Colobus monkeys that lived in the round exhibit that used to contain the old Monkey Ship, but we don’t have that kind of time!
I’ve been at the Zoo for 16 years; the first 10 as a keeper and then Animal area supervisor in pachyderms, and the next 6 as the Security Supervisor and EMT. I attended McMurry University in Abilene, Texas with a major in Applied Math and minors in Education and Art. When I moved to Oklahoma I began a new career path working with animals. Prior to working at the Zoo I worked for a couple of veterinary hospitals, one of which specialized in ostriches! It was this job that led me to the Zoo!I moved to Oklahoma City 22 years ago. As an Air Force brat I’ve lived in a lot of great places, but the first time I visited Oklahoma I knew I wanted to live here.