Leigh Kumpe '13

Animal Keeper, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Leigh Kumpe

Leigh Kumpe ’13 has dreamed of being a zookeeper for as long as she can remember. Her mother even has a drawing that Kumpe made in kindergarten of herself with her arm draped around a giraffe.

In a field that can be difficult to break into, Kumpe has managed to quickly turn her dream into a reality. She is currently an animal keeper at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where she helps feed, train and care for a variety of animals, including lions, gazelles, ostriches, antelopes, warthogs and more.

After graduating from Framingham State with a degree in Biology, Kumpe managed to parlay a summer camp job at Busch Gardens into a full-time position in the Florida theme park’s zoo education program.

About a year and a half later, she learned from a friend about job openings at Disney’s massive 580-acre Animal Kingdom theme park.

“It was an amazing opportunity,” she said.

In addition to feeding, cleaning and training the animals, Kumpe creates enrichment activities to keep them engaged. She also enjoys interacting with the visitors.

“I really enjoy talking to guests, answering their questions and teaching them about the animals,” Kumpe said.
Her job puts her up close to some very large and intimidating animals.

“It’s exciting and can definitely get your heart rate up,” said Kumpe, who is interested in eventually working with marine animals. “We have a lot of cats that will stock you and growl at you. My biggest fear is always for the safety of my coworkers.”

Kumpe credits Framingham State with setting her up for early career success.

“I had so many opportunities at Framingham State that I wouldn’t have had at any other school,” said Kumpe. “I still have a great bond with many of my professors and keep in touch with them regularly.”