Reflecting on my Externship on the Abilene Zoo – WildLIFE


 Macho the black rhino greets his adoring fanatics ahead of present process regimen venipuncture.

My revel in as a first-year vet scholar in 2020 was once in large part formed by means of the pandemic and the numerous barriers it imposed. After I first discovered concerning the Abilene Zoo in April 2021, it was once via a Cornell Zoo and Flora and fauna Society (ZAWS) lecture given by means of Dr. Stephanie Carle, the Abilene Zoo’s senior veterinarian, over Zoom. Spending my lunch hour puzzling via case-based questions with my classmates (albeit nearly) introduced a glimpse into the numerous alternatives to be had to us as veterinary scholars—one thing I had overpassed rather amid the arranged chaos of first 12 months. Dr. Carle concluded her communicate by means of discussing the Abilene Zoo’s veterinary externship program. In an instant, I had my points of interest set on collaborating in this system.


I had my likelihood in June 2022 when, funded by means of a Pupil American Veterinary Clinical Affiliation (SAVMA) Veterinary Enjoy Grant, I traveled to Abilene, Texas for a three-week externship. It was once an journey over a 12 months within the making, and in spite of how top I had allowed my expectancies to climb in that point, the revel in controlled to exceed them.

 Daphne enjoys her morning feeding!

The Abilene Zoo is house to over 280 species. The primary resident I met upon my arrival was once additionally some of the zoo’s more recent citizens. Daphne is a huge anteater who was once born on the zoo in March of 2022 and, upon my arrival, was once residing within the health facility to obtain round-the-clock care from the zoo’s veterinary and animal care group of workers. Daphne is a dual, and her mom was once not able to deal with each Daphne and her dual brother Arnaud. With enter from zoos around the nation, the Abilene Zoo was once in a position to craft a custom designed care plan for Daphne that allowed her to achieve weight and triumph over a myriad of headaches in order that by the point I met her, she was once thriving.

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All over my time on the zoo, I had the chance to bottle feed Daphne and to accompany her on her tours to look the zoo and engage together with her anteater members of the family. As I advised Daphne all over certainly one of her late-night bottle feedings, I’m additionally a dual and, in contrast to my sister, I spent a longer duration within the sanatorium as a child. I believed Daphne would possibly admire that we have been kindred spirits. (Her expression remained lovely impartial, so it’s onerous to mention if the purpose hit house. Possibly I noticed the nook of her lengthy snout pull up in a grin.)

 One of the vital zoo’s resident roadrunners undergoes a pre-shipment examination.

Whilst I spent plenty of time with Daphne, I additionally had alternatives to engage with most of the zoo’s species. Highlights of my revel in incorporated helping with a pre-shipment examination for a roadrunner, serving to to regard pododermatitis in some of the zoo’s resident flamingoes, collaborating in a neonatal examination of a steenbok, and medicating a capybara with conjunctivitis.

Different favourite alternatives incorporated tracking Jamie, a closely pregnant giraffe within the zoo’s herd, and inspecting Rico, a fossa hospitalized after fracturing his humeral condyle. I used to be in the end in a position to shuttle with a workforce from the zoo to Dallas Veterinary Surgical Middle to watch Rico’s orthopedic surgical operation.

After I wasn’t seeing instances within the sanatorium with Dr. Carle and Dr. Mike Nance, the zoo’s 2d veterinarian, I used to be in a position to discover the zoo and won a greater working out of the husbandry practices utilized by zoo group of workers to stay the gathering animals wholesome and glad. I used to be additionally in a position to take part in occasions hosted by means of the zoo, together with Dreamnight, a cost-free tournament permitting kids with particular scientific must benefit from the zoo with their households. This allowed me to really feel at house in Abilene.

 Rico the fossa receives a bodily examination after maintaining an orthopedic harm.

The Abilene Zoo could also be house to a health facility solely for injured and orphaned local birds. Whilst I anxious that my fowl revel in was once rather poor after I arrived in Abilene, all over my externship I used to be in a position to observe my diagnostic and scientific talents whilst additionally bettering my local fowl id talents. I didn’t be expecting to revel in my paintings within the rehabilitation middle up to I did. Then again, operating in opposition to returning wild birds to their habitats, thereby giving them a 2d likelihood and serving to to toughen their ecosystems, was once extremely rewarding.

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After I wasn’t on the zoo, I used to be thankful so that you could accompany Dr. Carle and Dr. Nance as they fulfilled their different skilled responsibilities. All over my 3 weeks, their enthusiasm for educating and fielding questions by no means waned. I visited the Abilene Animal Products and services Adoption Middle to finish opinions of latest small animal citizens, and likewise joined Dr. Carle all over her shifts on the native emergency health facility. There, I noticed instances I most likely wouldn’t have encountered within the northeast, together with complex heartworm illness and rattlesnake envenomation.

 A neonatal steenbok undergoes her first examination.

I won quite a lot of wisdom from collaborating within the magazine team on the zoo and dealing via pattern instances with the veterinary workforce. I used to be in a position to reside on the zoo all through my externship, so my down time was once spent carrying out analysis and making ready a presentation I gave on the shut of the externship on dietary deal with zoo animals.


I’m drastically grateful for the entire folks and animals I met and discovered from whilst in Abilene. I left this externship armed with new wisdom and abilities, footage to cherish, mentors to seem as much as, and a newfound appreciation for Texas delicacies.

 Extra bonding time with Daphne!

Colleen Sorge, Elegance of 2024, is a Cornell DVM scholar from Lengthy Island, NY. She got her undergraduate stage in Animal Science from Cornell College in 2020. She has a variety of pursuits throughout the veterinary box, together with each small animal and natural world drugs.

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