When I was younger, I visited a zoo for the first time and absolutely fell in love with exotic animals. As I grew older, I wanted to work with animals but didn’t know in what capacity. I then decided that I wanted to be a veterinarian for a zoological facility in order to help treat the facility’s collection. Zoos have many functions that some people are unaware of. They are not in place for the entertainment of humans. They are there to help conserve certain species that are vulnerable or endangered. I have seen firsthand the effect that poaching has had on rhino populations in South Africa, and zoos have important species survival plans to try to conserve animal species at risk. Zoos also help by performing research on disease processes, nutrition, etc., to help other zoo populations and populations in the wild. The final purpose of zoos is to educate and inspire people. I hope to inspire future generations to conserve our animal species and maybe even work in this field, just as I was inspired when I was younger.
Describe what it is like working with an elephant. What’s your favorite animal to work with? Most challenging?
Working with elephants is interesting. They can obviously be very dangerous (after all, all animals are still wild animals), so they are trained to perform certain natural behaviors that allow the veterinary staff to assess different body parts with limited physical touch. Normally, my job during these exams is to observe, document physical exam findings and assist the veterinary team by providing them with equipment as needed. My favorite animal to work around would probably be rhinos. I find them so fascinating and majestic. They are also highly endangered in the wild, and if the poaching situation does not change drastically, they could be extinct in 10 years or less. It is a sad situation, but educating the public on these issues is definitely the first step. The most challenging animals to work with for me are reptiles (especially under anesthesia). Reptiles lack a diaphragm, so they normally stop taking breaths under anesthesia. For that reason, it is necessary to intubate them and breathe for them for the duration of the procedure.