back to news Jan. 18, 2018

Young alumna lands dream job at Cincinnati Zoo

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Not many can say they’ve found their dream job at such a young age, but Angela Hatke (BA, communication, 2007) may be the exception. In 2015, she became the communications coordinator for the Cincinnati Zoo, and hasn’t stopped smiling since.

In her role, Angela handles everything from day-to-day social media, to media relations and website blog posts. On a typical day, you’ll find her running around the zoo, taking photos of all the animals to share with the masses, and always making time to visit the elephants — her favorite animal — and, of course, her first love at the zoo: Dale, the takin (goat-antelope). But how did she get there?

As a student at Ohio State, Angela interned with two radio stations. Her time at the stations set her up with a job right after graduation and eventually led her to the Cincinnati Zoo.

“The School of Communication has a really great internship program. I have contacts that I made while a part of it that I still work with today,” she said. “Overall, it was a great experience, and a great stepping stone into the field of communication.”

The internship program provides students with the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and gain real world experience to prepare them for life after graduation. For Angela, having those connections and skills means everything.

“I’m so thankful for the education I received from the School of Communication. I wouldn’t be here today, with my dream job at the Cincinnati Zoo, without it.”

What makes this her “dream job,” though, is not just the people she gets to work with or the content she creates on social media, but something more.

“This job caught my eye because it’s something that I’m really passionate about — conservation, education and helping others,” she said. “And now that I have the job, it’s even better than I could have imagined. I love having the opportunity to spread hope for animals in the future.”

Angela got that opportunity in a big way on Jan. 24, 2017, when Fiona the baby hippo was born six weeks before her due date. Though the zoo was prepared for her birth, they were not ready for her to be born prematurely at 29 pounds — half the normal birth weight for a hippo. With help from Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, keepers were able to nurse Fiona back to health, and Angela and her team were with them every step of the way, posting updates daily on the zoo’s blog.

Arts and Sciences alumna Angela Hatke with Fiona the baby hippo

“The marketing department’s job was to decide how to tell her story. From day one, we worked closely with the keepers and the veterinarian staff for access and information about Fiona so we could share it with all our followers. We knew they would fall in love with her as much as we did.”

And, fall in love they did.

At first, my role for Team Fiona was just taking Fiona’s picture and posting baby hippo updates every day on her progress. But as time went on, I even got to help babysit her, taking notes for the keepers and giving her lots of attention.”

Arts and Sciences alumna Angela Hatke with Fiona the baby hippo.

In her first year of life, the Cincinnati community has rallied around Fiona, creating everything from car magnets to T-shirts, cookies, a local beer and even an ice cream flavor — Graeter’s Chunky Chunky Hippo. Last fall, the zoo created The Fiona Show, posting weekly episodes on Facebook that shared Fiona’s remarkable journey. The baby hippo’s story of survival has generated an enormous following — the zoo now has more than 100 million Facebook views from around the world. Fiona has officially become an internet sensation — after all, how can you not be #TeamFiona?

The Cincinnati Zoo is celebrating Fiona's first birthday (Jan. 24) on Jan. 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with various giveaways, treats and hippo-themed activities. Follow the zoo on Facebook or Twitter to tune in for #FionasFirst. 

As for Angela, she’s living the dream.

“When I started this job, I never thought that I’d actually get to meet animals and have relationships with them. Being able to work so closely with animals, like Dale and Fiona, has opened my eyes to the hard work our keepers do every day and how important conservation is. I’m excited I get to help spread that message.”

Angela met with the College of Arts and Sciences Marketing and Communications team last August to share how Ohio State prepared her for her job.

An @ASCatOSU alum shares how @OhioState prepped her for a job at the @CincinnatiZoo, where she's been working with Fiona the baby hippo. #TeamFiona #ASCDaily