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During first year, as part of our clinical correlates course, we
take care of an animal for a week in the fall and spring semesters.
This semester I was assigned to take care of Zea, the ostrich.
While many people were excited at the opportunity to take care of
this exotic animal, I had my concerns. Ostriches can run extremely
fast—up to 45 mph—and have a sharp nail on each foot that is quite
capable of slicing a person open. Needless to say, I was a bit
nervous. I was reassured by several fellow first years that it
would be fine and that they had survived the experience.
I double-checked myself before walking in for any shiny
objects—Zea loves to steal and eat them. The third year veterinary
student that was in charge helped us to guide the 250-pound bird
into a small exam area and started to explain the physical exam of
the ostrich. Zea wasn't being a very cooperative patient though.
The third year student couldn't understand why she was acting so
agitated and decided to end the demonstration early, letting Zea
back into her enclosure. Zea walked straight over to her water
bucket and proceeded to start laying an egg! It was incredible to
watch! The egg weighs 3–5 pounds and is the equivalent of two-dozen
chicken eggs. The rest of the husbandry rotation was rather
uneventful in comparison.
I don't know if I will ever treat an ostrich in practice, but I
definitely have a cool story to tell from my first year of vet
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