Saturday, July 2, 2016

Welcome to Texas: Dallas Zoo Vet Hospital Edition 1

Name: Eliza Hanes
Class Year: 2018
Hometown: Vestal, NY
Internship: Vet Hospital Intern
Location: Dallas Zoo

Hi Everyone! My name is Eliza Hanes and I am a senior Zoo and Conservation Science and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology double major at Otterbein University. This summer I am completing a ten week internship in the  vet hospital at the Dallas Zoo. I am staying about half an hour away from the zoo with North Savannah/Registrar intern Abigail Smith and Advancement department employee Myra Lummus. At the house, we are always surrounded by pets. The permanent residents are two puppies, Jetta and Whiskey, two rats, Ivy and Lexi, a cat, Savannah,  and a ball python, Leroy. When we were first here, there were eight puppies, but they have all since found loving homes. We also dog sat a Schnauzer poodle mix, Elmo. 

It is the end of my fourth week here in Dallas and I am really enjoying my internship. While it has been hot, with the heat index being above 100° daily, we have also seen a good amount of rain and thunderstorms.  When it rains in Texas, it really rains. The street that we live on has some problems in the rain. The end of the road, it begins to flood with most rains, especially the torrential down pour that is seen here in Dallas. One minute it is sunny, the next thing you know it is raining cats and dogs. Luckily this rain has been mostly on the days that I am not interning at the zoo so I am able to stay inside and wait out the rain.

Elmo and I 
Every day that I intern, there is something different going on. We always start the day with the ever entertaining morning meeting. This is pretty much the one time when the whole hospital staff is together during the day, so we see a lot of derailments. The intended agenda is how the animals are doing that day, what procedures there are, what treatments are scheduled, general schedule stuff, and then miscellaneous stuff. This is a very interesting part of the meeting because the hospital manager, Dianna, comes up with a list of things that have happened on 'this day in history.'

After the morning meeting, I go with one of the techs to either set up for the morning meeting, or to fill blue sheets (medication schedule sheets) for the animals that are on medications. The techs are really nice and do a really great job of getting me as involved as possible. The techs are Laurel, Deb, and Cass. They rotate by week whether they are in the lab or on procedures. This makes it so that I get to work with each of them. Normally, the hospital would have another tech, however they are currently in the interviewing to fill the empty position.

Some lunches I go out and walk around the zoo to see the animals
Then the morning is usually filled with one or more procedures. These procedures are scheduled so they aren't emergencies. Typically the procedures are either diagnostic, quarantine, or annual exams. Some mornings we have a dental work, or are moving an animal between two exhibits, and about once or twice a month, there will be a surgery performed. This procedure is typically done by one of the vets, Dr. Bonar, Dr. Raines, or Dr. Connolly, but if it is a code red or high profile animal, there are at least two vets present. There is one vet scheduled on procedures for a day, then the other vet is on emergency calls. If there are three vets present that day, then the third is scheduled for paperwork that day.

After the procedures I will help the techs clean up after the procedure. This can take anywhere from half an hour or a few hours depending on what the morning procedure was. Throughout this time, if the emergency vet gets a call to go look at an animal, or if an animal gets brought to the hospital for emergency treatment, the emergency vet will bring me with them to observe the treatment.

Through the past few weeks I have been able to see procedures on animals small through large and I have gotten to learn a lot about veterinary medicine. The vets are super knowledgeable about many species, even including species that are not housed at the zoo. One day, Dr. Bonar told me a lot of information about black rhinos, his favorite species to work with. Black rhinos are very susceptible to diseases, and as he put it, 'can be peeing blood one day, and dead the next.'

Depending on how busy the day was, it will typically end with setting up for the next day's procedure.

Fort Worth Zoo with Abigail
One of the big projects that I have gotten to work on with the techs has been monthly meds. This is done for the beginning of each month and it is filling prescriptions for animals that get meds just at the beginning of the month. These meds are pretty much all anti-parasitical medicine that prevent things such as fleas and ticks. While this is not too hard of a task, it is time consuming, as after the prescription is filled, they have to be sorted into sections and then further broken down into departments. This project can take anywhere from one day to one week depending on how many people are working on it.

The other big project that I am working on is one that I will be presenting to the vet department at the end of my internship and will have a side brown bag (a presentation for the whole zoo over the lunch hour) that relates to it. For this project, I am looking at the urinary tracts of cats, particularly Sumatran and Malayan tigers, with an emphasis on the kidneys. This is because I am looking at the keeper daily reports to note one particular occurrence in their urine.

I am really looking forward to the rest of my time here in Dallas and the future knowledge that I will gain. 
Abigail and I at the pre-screening of The BFG

In Dallas, I have gotten the opportunity to do many things with Myra and Abigail. We got the opportunity to go to the off-Broadway showing of Beauty and the Beast and  pre-screening of The BFG. We also went to see Zootopia together. All three were of no cost to us, with two opportunities being from the Dallas zoo. Abigail and I also decided to go to the Fort Worth Zoo to celebrate her 20th birthday. There is so much to do here in the Dallas area, and many adventures await this summer.

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