In this podcast, I interview PJ Beaven, a zookeeper for over 15 years. PJ created a program called ZooFit where she incorporates health and fitness with conservation.
First PJ and I talk about what it was like for her to be a zookeeper. PJ worked with elephants and talks about how she took care of them and trained them for medical purposes. But because she gave so much of herself to the animals, she became burnt out and started to develop “compassion fatigue.”
As a result, she created ZooFit. ZooFit takes the most meaningful aspects of being a zookeeper and applies them to fitness. In other words, the techniques she uses to train animals, operant conditioning through positive reinforcement, can work for you too to make working out and eating right engaging and more enjoyable.
ZooFit is more than a workout program – it’s all about self-care AND conservation. What we eat and how we move (by car or by bike) affects not only our waistline, but also the planet. It’s also all about what works. Why don’t we train ourselves like the way we train animals?
PJ is so engaging and such a positive spirit; you won’t want to miss this interview!
Specifically we chat about:
- Life as a zookeeper: day-to-day duties, its challenges and rewards
- What it’s like to work with zoo elephants
- What is compassion fatigue and why so many people suffer from it
- How animals learn and how it works for humans too
- Why we can’t keep giving and giving – and how this is actually worse for animals and conservation
- Should we keep elephants in zoos?
- How can you reward yourself for small successes in life
Resources and Sources Mentioned in ZooFit: An Interview with Jessie Panazzolo ZooFit
Stephanie Schuttler is a wildlife biologist with 17 years of experience in mammal ecology and conservation, education, and outreach. Read her inspirational story, “My Unexpected Journey Into Science” to find out how she went from the daughter of a jeweler to a Ph.D. in wildlife biology. Feel free to contact Stephanie here.