Name: Talia Goffinet

Title: Associate Marine Mammal Trainer

Hometown: Evansville, IN

Education: Psychology with a concentration in Animal Behavior

Bio: I have wanted to become a marine mammal trainer since I was four years old. My aunts took me to see the movie Free Willy and I was instantly inspired by the film much like children today are inspired by our own Dolphin Tale! Ever since then I knew that when I grew up I wanted to work with marine animals. I am originally from Evansville, IN. In high school I took as many science classes as possible to prepare myself to study marine biology in college. I realized there were obviously limited opportunities to work with marine mammals in the great state of Indiana so I decided to move to Florida for college right after high school. I attended the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL and majored in marine biology before changing my major to Psychology with a concentration in Animal Behavior. While in college, I worked at various animal care facilities including Florida Wildlife Hospital, Brevard Zoo, and SeaWorld Orlando. I applied to many marine mammal internships last summer and was accepted at different facilities but I ultimately chose to complete my internship right here at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. After my internship, I went back to school and worked extra hard to graduate a semester early so that I could begin my career sooner. After I graduated college I was hired at the Brevard Zoo as a zookeeper and worked there for about three months before I was offered a position at CMA. I am currently the youngest and one of the newest trainers on our team so I am still learning many things every day! As an intern I quickly fell in love with the animals and people here and I wanted nothing more than to return to work for CMA. I am ecstatic to be a part of CMA’s marine mammal training team! I could not be happier to begin my career as a marine mammal trainer here at Clearwater Marine Aquarium!

Title: Associate Marine Mammal Trainer

Hometown: Sun Prairie, WI

Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology – Emphasis in Organism Ecology. Minor in Chemistry.

Hobbies/Favorite Past Times: Scrapbooking, playing with my dog, running, volleyball & swimming


Growing up, I have always wanted to work with marine animals. First, I have always loved learning about the oceans and the creatures that grew in them. Second, I love water! I was a competitive swimmer since fourth grade through my senior year in college.

After high school, I pursued my collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Shortly after starting, I began to doubt my ability to actually become a marine mammal trainer and began to focus on other possible careers with animals (veterinarian, rehabilitation specialist, etc.). My junior year I did a wildlife internship with the Four Lakes Wildlife Center (Madison, WI). They too were a rescue, rehab, and release facility that specialized in small mammals, songbirds, and raptors. I received the unique experience to work with several types of animals and help out with several of their releases. After my internship I thought that this would be something that I would want to do for the rest of my life, so I decided to stay on as a volunteer. As graduation grew near I found myself constantly thinking how much I wanted to work with marine mammals and train. Despite the odds against me I decided to go for it and give it a shot. What did I have to lose; at the very least I can be content knowing I tried. Right before graduation, I began to fill out any and every application for marine mammal training internships for the fall of 2011.

I had filled out several applications and ultimately I chose an internship at Clearwater Marine Aquarium due to their unique mission of rescue, rehab, and release, which is near and dear to my heart. I loved the internship it gave me not only a large amount of information on animals, but also training concepts. After I finished I decided to stay on as a volunteer and continue my learning in the hopes that one day I would become a trainer somewhere. Shortly after an opportunity presented itself, a job posing for an associate training position had opened up. After the swim test and interviews I finally received my big break, I was hired in February 2012! Currently I am one of the associate trainers that work with our Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, North American river otters, African great white pelicans, and nurse sharks! My motto: Better to have tried and failed than not try at all!