Because most of my animal experience is centered around small animals, I am constantly seeking opportunities to diversify my knowledge of veterinary medicine to prepare me for veterinary school and the application process.
Over the summer, I finally had the chance to enter the world of exotic animals!
With the opening of Aggieland Safari, an interactive, drive-through zoo, I jumped at the opportunity to work with a plethora of different species. As a veterinary intern, I assist the veterinarian in surgeries, treatments, and observation of the zoo animals.
Six months later, I have worked with an assortment of animals, including, oryx, zebras, reptiles, macaws, silver foxes, camels, and so much more!
A typical day at the park consists primarily of medicating animals. Additionally, I will walk around exhibits and examine animals to make sure everyone looks OK. Finally, I will help zookeepers feed animals and clean enclosures.
Through this education, I have also become more comfortable with these animals. Although I always practice caution and awareness around all animals, I am no longer as apprehensive of animals I interact frequently with, such as binturongs and African grey parrots.
Speaking of binturongs, my favorite animal to feed is a binturong named Poppy. She received her name because a chemical in the urine of binturongs smells like buttery popcorn!
Binturongs look like a combination of a small bear and cat. However, they are actually civets and are originally from Southeast Asia.
Although they are carnivores, Poppy loves her strawberries and watermelon! During hotter days, we will freeze a variety of fruit in water and give her these popsicle-like creations. It provides a source of entertainment for her and cools her down!
In fact, because she is so motivated by food, medicating her is a lot easier! All I have to do is treat her with a strawberry and she happily takes her medicine.
As my journey through veterinary medicine continues, I am so excited to continue to learn with amazing animals, like Poppy.
Later this winter, I am travelling to Belize to intern at the Wildlife Institute and continue my studies of exotic animals. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!