Where Are They Now: Jose M. “Chema” Barredo-Barberena

Jose M. “Chema” Barredo-Barberena (far right) examines a Peruvian Pelican at the 2005 Chile oil spill response with IBR-IFAW Emergency Response team.

This month we are re-introducing you to some past International Bird Rescue folks. The first person on our list is Jose M. Barredo-Barberena. Chema, as he is known to most, was raised in Mexico and received his Bachelor of degree in Veterinary Science from Universidad Veracruzana. Shortly thereafter, Chema was accepted into Bird Rescue’s International Internship Program after learning about the program while responding to an oil spill in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico in early 2005.

Here’s his story in his own words:

Question: What years were you active with International Bird Rescue and what was your role?

Answer: I was in the internship program at Bird Rescue from April 2005 to May 2006, during this time, I spent most of my time at the Northern California center, but also did two stints at the center in San Pedro. As an intern, I assisted rehabilitation staff and the veterinarian caring for injured and oiled wildlife, and learned about seabirds and waterfowl. Besides this, I was an Emergency Relief Team Member with International Bird Rescue/International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) during six oil spills, including the first one in Mexico where I first met the team.

Q. What was your favorite memory working at Bird Rescue?

A. I have plenty, although I remember one very fondly, during the Cosco Busan Oil Spill, Michelle Bellizzi and I were doing pre-release checks for a group of birds in the pool area. Somehow, a bird in rehab managed to get out of a pen, Michelle and I heard the noise and ran to assist catching the bird. I did this while holding another bird wrapped in a towel carrying it as a football. Between Michelle and I, managed to catch the escapee with no injuries to any involved.

Q. What did you learn from Bird Rescue that you use in your work today?

A. Bird Rescue’s motto “Every Bird Matters” showed me the way to value and respect every animal’s life. The importance of animal welfare, finding what’s best for a particular individual, even if that means euthanasia is the best outcome. Great animal observation skills too. Being an intern at IBR not only taught me animal skills, it also set the basis for good communication skills. I grew up not only as a professional, but also as a human being, learned to be resilient, to trust my skills, and to believe in myself.

Q. Where are you now?

A. I live in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I currently work as a Zoo Keeper with Zoos Victoria at their Melbourne Zoo property. I’ve been a keeper for two years, and have had the opportunity to work with American Bison, Camel, several antelope species, Ostrich, Mongolian Horse, Giraffe, Rhino, Hippopotamus, Australian native species. Currently I work in the Primate Department caring for Hamadryas Baboons, Cotton-top Tamarins, Gorillas, Orangutans among other species.