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A biologist among dolphins and sea lions

Interview with Chema Méndez, graduate in Biology by the University of Navarra in 2006.

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Chema Méndez, in his work.
PHOTO: Courtesy
11/12/17 17:43 Laura Juampérez

Chema Méndez (Biology '06) defines the training he received at the University as "very complete". From his time at the campus in Pamplona, he especially keeps the Zoology and Ecology internships. Perhaps because even then she dreamed of swimming among dolphins. And, in the end, he has managed to turn that dream into a profession.

- How did you forge your professional degree program ? Did you apply the knowledge acquired on the School?
At the beginning I worked at School in my city, in a project to locate coal mine dumps. It was for a short time, and then I worked in quality auditing for a business in the Castilla y León area. But these jobs were not fulfilling for me.

My passion was, and still is, working with animals. Then I was lucky enough to find my first employment in this field in Madrid, at the Faunia penguinarium.

From there I moved to Fuerteventura, Switzerland, Canary Islands, Italy, Dominican Republic and finally to Tenerife, where work is now. In all these countries I have always been involved in training sea lions and dolphins.

Of course, as soon as I started working with animals, I did not fail to apply everything I learned at School. Especially, to control the environment in which the animals live and to know how to deduce why they may be unwell, since our work pursues, first and foremost, to ensure the welfare of the animals. Something that cannot be achieved if they are not comfortable in their environment, both physical and social. To achieve this, it has helped me a lot to have studied biology.

- How would you define your current work ?
My profession is trainer of sea lions and dolphins at Loro Parque, in Tenerife. There I am in charge of taking care of them, checking them daily to make sure they are in perfect health. I also carry out educational exhibitions and train them in dynamic and medical behaviors to ensure their well-being.

- In the middle deadline, what are your professional plans?
After traveling for so long, I am now looking for stability, as long as I can keep learning. The reality is that in this work you don't stop discovering new things.

- If you had to recommend to an 18-year-old student whether or not to pursue a degree program like yours, what would you tell him or her?
I would tell him/her to think very carefully about what he/she wants to do (be it this degree program or any other). And, if he is really convinced, to fight for it without hesitation. He shouldn't care what anyone tells him, or how many problems he might encounter along the way.

In my case, the internship at business helped me a lot to get into this environment, and for that I will always be grateful to the University.