Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lavaging in the Lonestar State

Name: Rachel Dalton
Class Year: 2016, Senior
Hometown: Columbus, OH
Internship: Veterinary Hospital Intern, Dallas Zoo
Location: Dallas, TX

Hello there! My name is Rachel Dalton, I am heading into my senior year as a Zoo and Conservation Science major at Otterbein, and this summer I am interning with the veterinary department at the Dallas Zoo.

I am a pre-veterinary student in the process of applying to vet school, and very interested in pursuing a career in zoo and wildlife veterinary medicine. Learning more about this field from the fantastic veterinary team at the Dallas Zoo has been an incredible opportunity. Every day is different, and I always leave the hospital at the end of the day having learned something (usually many somethings!).

I am here with fellow zoo major Lauren Silla, who is also interning at the Dallas Zoo. We have been in Dallas since late May, and explore the DFW area together on our days off. As you may have heard, it was a little rainy around here during the month of May… Thankfully things have been drier as of late, and the toasty Texan summer is in full swing.

A typical day for me begins at 7:30am with morning meeting at the zoo hospital, where all of the veterinarians, vet techs, and hospital keepers go over what is scheduled for that day in terms of treatments, procedures, meetings, etc. After the meeting, we begin the scheduled morning procedures. This may involve loading up the hospital van and heading out into the zoo to go to the animal, or making sure everything is ready for animals to be brought to us at the hospital. It has been interesting to learn about the many nuances involved in making sure procedures in both contexts go smoothly. There are a lot of different species-specific considerations to account for in addition to the typical procedure-specific considerations, which is one of the unique and fascinating challenges of zoo vet med. The Dallas Zoo veterinarians, Dr. Bonar, Dr. Raines, Dr. Connolly, Dr. Gentry, and Dr. Oh, have been very gracious about allowing me to come along for procedures, treatments, and necropsies, which I appreciate tremendously. I have also had the opportunity to spend time with Dr. Lynn Kramer, who is the Vice President of Animal Operations at the Dallas Zoo and an Otterbein alum (go Cardinals!).

The Dallas Zoo has had a busy spring full of zoo babies, including not only the internet-famous giraffe calf Kipenzi, but also a plethora of unique avian species! I am an unabashed bird nerd, and have loved getting familiar with the many avian species at the Dallas Zoo. It has been neat to see several of the feathered new arrivals up close during physical exams. Here are a few pictures of some of my favorite avian zooborns:

   Yellow-billed Stork                                 
Kori Bustards

White-backed Vulture

Images courtesy of the Dallas Zoo ZooHoo blog. 

You can read about more of the incredible bird department’s successful spring here!

Recently we did routine blood work for some of the Galapagos tortoises. In addition to being in charge of the tote containing blood draw supplies, I was also assigned the very arduous task of offering chunks of various vegetables to the tortoises and petting their necks while the vets performed the blood draws. It was rough, but someone had to do it. J


When there are not procedures or treatments happening, I can be found in the conference room/impressive library of the hospital reading through necropsy reports of bushmaster pit vipers. 

A bushmaster. Image courtesy of WildAnimalsOnline.com.
The bushmaster (Lachesis muta) is the longest species of pit viper, and native to South America. They are beautiful animals with truly stunning coloration that is hard to do justice in pictures. Sadly, this species is one of many at risk due to habitat fragmentation by deforestation, and is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

The Dallas Zoo has a very successful bushmaster breeding program, and as such a lot of archived bushmaster records. The vets asked me to analyze these records to look for trends in different diseases this species is particularly susceptible to. This has been a great opportunity for me to not only learn about necropsy and histopathology reports, but also about reptile veterinary medicine and snakes in general.

I will now close with this picture of one of my favorite little ladies at the zoo, Kipenzi, with mom Katie. J Giraffes are incredible animals.

No comments:

Post a Comment