Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about jobs, and the blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!
San Diego Zoo Safari Park is responsible for all the creatures that call it home. This means that all of the animals that get hurt need to be treated immediately by a trained animal medical staff. We were shown the inner workings of the Paul Harter Veterinary Medical Care Center, the hospital in charge of this extremely important task, by Veterinarian Technician, Kristen McCaffree who has worked at the hospital for over twenty years. Almost every room in the hospital has a purpose that coincides directly with helping sick or injured animals recover and keeping the animals healthy.
One of our first stops was this conference room. Inside this room, the hospital staff meets every day to ensure that all the animals are being cared for. They discuss which animals need to be checked and their current status. Cameras are one of the tools the hospital staff uses to monitor the animals. They are installed in different animal areas and are useful to track whether or not an animal’s health has stabilized, improved, or worsened.
This sheet is the “Hospital Active Case” list that catalogues every animal within the hospital. It lists their species, ID, injury or sickness, treatment plan, and the date they were brought into the facility. However, some animals listed, such as the Hawaiian crow, or Alala, are placed in the facility for long-term placement. The Hawaiian crow has been checked into the hospital because of a San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy project. You can read more about the project at http://www.sandiegozooglobal.org.
This giraffe was checked in because it had problems digesting its mother’s milk. Although it went in for that reason, hospital staff kept it in for longer because they saw it had another health issue occurring. Hospital staff always has to be on their toes so they can figure out the reasons for why the animals are sick, how they got sick, and how they can prevent them from getting sick in the future.
The x-ray room in the hospital functions no differently from the one you would go to at the doctor. The procedure for checking on an animal, however, requires a different strategy. Many different types of animals of all sizes use this room. The large doors to the right side of the room let the animals into the room. The largest animal to ever come to the hospital was a rhinoceros, one of the most endangered animals at the Safari Park. The hospital staff is given a very important task taking care of these rare species, and they don’t take their jobs lightly.
The hospital contains all the specific medications (much like your local pharmacy) for every animal under its care. Each type of medicine must be carefully measured for accuracy by the medical staff, like Ms. McCaffree.
This bag holds the anesthetics responsible for sedating animals. The procedure for getting an animal sedated and onto the truck must be timely and efficient not only to reduce stress for the animal of concern but also for the other animals in the surrounding areas are not overwhelmed or alarmed.
How does the hospital receive the animals in the first place? These trucks, or “vet packs,” let keepers transport animals from their enclosures to the hospital easily. A single truck contains all the supplies a needed to quickly check up on an animal: oxygen tanks, surgical packs, tranquilizer kits, and even hoof trimming kits.
All the food for the animals in the hospital is stored on these shelves. The vet technicians need to measure out the food an animal will receive for each meal. From greens to rodents, every animal will be guaranteed a nutritious meal.
Every single animal that has spent time in the hospital has a file. This helps hospital staff figure out if an animal has a reoccurring problem if it checks back into the hospital. Even animals who are now gone still have files, and new patients come in nearly every day.
In the hospital’s laboratory, we were shown some of the things that hospital staff collects from animals while they visit. These jars contain kidney stones from all sorts of animals, from tortoises to gazelles. The hospital staff also removes pests from the animals, such as tics, fleas and tapeworms that can harm the animal’s overall health. These samples can stay in the lab for years for future reference if anything like this occurs again. For instance, the jar on the top left is now eleven years old!
Emily, Photography Team
Week Two, Winter Session 2014