Names: Rachel Wilson and Gabby McDonald
Years: Classes of 2019 and 2020
Hometowns: Zanesville, OH and Germantown, MD
Internship: Veterinary Research Interns
Location: National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, in Pretoria, South Africa
Approximate time frame: May 2nd-May 13th
What a crazy week it has been. Rachel and traveling companions hit some rough patches (to put it lightly) along the way, while Gabby was stranded in Johannesburg alone. A delayed flight, getting rerouted to London, and many hours on several planes later, Rachel finally met up with Gabby in the Johannesburg terminal. We found our "knight in shining armor" (really, he was our driver in khakis and crocs), and made our way to the Zoo! We unloaded at the house, knowing we had business to attend to.
|Our B-E-A-UTIFUL home for the next two months!|
Monday morning came around and our jet-lagged selves rolled out of bed to go learn about our project for the next two months. We met up with the Manager of Research and Scientific Services, Prof Antoinette Kotze, hereby referred to as Prof, who introduced us to the three veterinarians we would be working with: Dr. Ian (Head Vet), Dr. Jennie (who has a fantastic sense of ) and Dr. Rob (who exclaims "Welcome to Africa," anytime anything less-than-ideal happens). They probably have surnames, but didn't tell us what they were.
Lucky for us, Prof decided it would be best if we worked together. Our project would consist of looking at morphometric data (measurements, lengths, etc.) of pangolins and samples of blood smears to look for .
However, we didn't spend our first week working on our project. Rather, after spending a day reading lots of journal articles, we shadowed the vets for the rest of the week. This included witnessing a cheetah ultrasound at the only South African veterinary college, and unfortunately its post-mortem (also known as a necropsy) later in the week. A road trip to the zoo's breeding center, , allowed us to get out of the city for a day! We helped with the blood collection and sampling of African Painted Wild Dogs, and even got to eat at a fresh fruit and veg stand. On a hot day, we were grateful for fresh fruit (and a box of avocados).
|Back off boys, this lady's taken! |
(For those of you who are wondering, that's Shylo)
One day during the week, we left work a little early to go watch a seal training session. This specific training was to get into the back of the ambulance, so that any trips to the vet hospital won't have to be as strenuous. This seems to be only one of many trainings that they receive, and our housemate speaks very highly of their conservator in charge (at home we call them curators), and her passion for her job. She was even recommended the book "Don't Shoot the Dog" which we read in junior year practicum for the Zoo Program.
After our first full week, we finally made a proper trip to the grocery store. It was a great feeling to finally have some food other than the instant meals we had been living off. And chips. There have been plenty of chips (fries) for us to eat. Saturday morning (#2) rolls around, and Gabby got out of bed to volunteer in the seal house with our housemate while Rachel slept in and began working on her Vet School application.
|The three amigos at Mokopane!|
From left to right: Hasita looking cute, Gabby unsure of
what's going on (what else is new), and Rachel being a goob