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International Programs Student Trip Reports
In keeping with Texas A&M’s Vision 2020 objective of graduating students with a global perspective based on global experiences, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences provides a limited number of travel stipends to students to help them gain international work/study experiences. The following travel reports give an overview of what our students learned while living, working, and studying abroad.
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Queensland, Australia - Michelle Boatwright

Queensland, Australia - Michelle Boatwright

If you ever get the chance to study an area of veterinary medicine that we don't have access to at school I highly recommend you jump at the chance. I chose to explore wildlife medicine. I had no idea when I set out to find a 4th year externship that I would end up on the other side of the world in Queensland, Australia. It was 24 hours worth of traveling to get to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital but it sure was worth it when we landed in beautiful Queensland. The beaches, mountains and rainforest all merge together in one breath-taking view.

Located near Australia Zoo at Beerwah in Queensland, Australia, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital was opened in March 2004 by Steve Irwin (best known as The Crocodile Hunter). Nearly 100 wildlife emergency calls are received daily and up to 30 different species are admitted to the hospital every day. It is the largest wildlife hospital in the world and saw over 6000 cases last year alone. While I was there around 40 koalas were undergoing treatment for various ailments. The hospital includes a veterinary facility with an intensive care room and laboratory, and separate holding facilities for males and females, and diseased and non-diseased koalas.

I previously had very little wildlife experience except for the occasional bird that came into the hospital during my 4th year3 clinical rotations. But all of that changed my first day of work at the Wildlife Hospital when we saw over 10 different species of wildlife. On an average day we would see a variety of parrots, song birds, snakes, bats, possums, sea turtles and koalas. My favorite, by far, were the Flying Foxes. Flying Foxes are large fruit bats that have the most adorable faces. Usually they came in because they were tangled up with a barbed wire fence. After some untangling, cleaning and antibiotics they were sent to certified carers to recover and eventually released. Approximately 70% of patients seen at the hospital are victims of car accidents or domestic pet attacks. Each is given the best quality medicine and rehabilitation possible.

Everyone at the hospital was so passionate about rehabilitating wildlife. There passion was very infectious and I couldn't help but get excited each time they tagged a koala or sea turtle for release. Their motto at the hospital is "Save one, save a species". Each day we worked from 8am-5pm taking occasional breaks to walk across the parking lot and visit the famous Australia Zoo.  On the weekends I went SCUBA diving on the Great Barrier Reef, hiking in the rain forest, and swimming next to giant waterfalls.  I can't even begin to describe how beautiful the reefs are, and if you ever get the chance to see it, don't pass it up! It is a natural wonder of the world after all.

When I left for Australia I had no idea it would be, literally, the trip of a lifetime. My four weeks of travel flew by in the blink of an eye. I learned so much about wildlife medicine and how rewarding it can be. I can't even begin to thank all of the people who supported me during my first international travel experience. My wonderful husband and parents encouraged me to go out and see the world and learn from each person I met along the way.  I would also like to thank the international travel office whose contribution helped me make my dream into a reality.  Words will never be able to express my gratitude for this once in a lifetime experience.


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