SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) -- A former San Diego Charger's cheerleader, turned nightclub go-go dancer, turned wildlife conservationist is making a living and doing what she loves most.
It's been five years since Marlina Moreno worked as a Charger's cheerleader.
“I look back it doesn't even feel real that I did that. It kind of seem like a dream or a really long time ago,” recalled Moreno.
At the age of 25, Moreno transitioned from the football field to performing on stage as a nightclub go-go dancer.
“When I tell people I dance, people right away assume you're stripping,” joked Moreno, who dances in bikini outfits.
Dancing part time in local clubs is a means to an end for Moreno. Her real ambition is wildlife conservation.
“You know I'm the weird girl who watches wildlife documentaries and animal videos. And then I throw on my fake eyelashes and go to work,” she said.
Moreno also launched a marketing company, Pink Monkey Media. She travels around the world making videos promoting wildlife conservation and volunteerism.
“It felt right marrying media with wildlife conservation,” she said. “I can't explain it. I think when you find your passion, you find your passion, right?”
On a recent excursion to Uganda, Moreno got close up and personal with gorillas. She hiked in remote areas of the country, videotaping rhinos and other wildlife to help promote eco-tourism.
“When I got to work with those rescued chimps and hear the story what the Uganda Wildlife Education Center is doing, I just absolutely set my heart on fire,” said Moreno.
Just back from Thailand, she shot video of elephants for an upcoming documentary.
“That was actually my first time interacting with an elephant, except as a child going to a fair and riding one, which i would never do now,” Moreno said.
Human interaction with wild animals can be controversial but for Moreno it’s a great chance to educate people.
“There's something to be said about someone getting that one on one experience with a wild animal. It helps create a connection and makes them care about it. I'm not completely opposed if it's done right,” she said.
Back in on stage in San Diego, Moreno knows she can't work as a go-go dancer forever. But for now, it lets her do what she loves most.
“Extra cash helps me do extra trips, and extra trips means I get to make more media and help do more conservation. So, I'll keep shaking it as long as I can,” she said.
Moreno grew up on a farm Vista. She has an MBA and currently is working on another master’s degree in conservation biology.
She plans on returning to Uganda at the end of the year to continue shooting a wildlife documentary.