Monthly Pets First
Walk on the Wild Side CELEBRATE NATIONAL ZOO LOVERS DAY
“Whether it’s a zoo or an aquarium, I love getting to meet different animals and learn about how they’re cared for.”
As a lifelong animal lover, I’ve always enjoyed taking a trip to the zoo. I’ve been to zoos all over the country, including the San Diego Zoo, the Minnesota Zoo, and the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. If a zoo has a really great freshwater aquarium or chimpanzee exhibit, I call that a great trip. Over the years, I’ve had some pretty unique experiences at the zoo thanks to my career. In veterinary school, I was president of our Zoo Medicine Club. Members of this club were able to go on behind- the-scenes tours of the Kansas City Zoo and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. To this day, the Henry Doorly Zoo is still my favorite zoo to visit. The club coordinated with the veterinarian staff at the zoo so we could learn how the zoos cared for their animals and what treatments they were able to provide to animals who were ill. These were amazing experiences, and I looked for opportunities to have more of these encounters even after veterinary school. About seven years ago, I took a two-week freshwater fish course in Florida, going behind-the-scenes at SeaWorld to get an up-close look at the aquariums. It was really cool. I remember one aquarium so large that there was a walkway across the top. They had to send scuba divers into the aquarium to clean the glass and move around decorations. Whether it’s a zoo or an aquarium, I love getting to meet different animals and learn about how they’re cared for. Early in my career, I sought out these experiences because I wanted to care for a variety of animals myself, not just cats and dogs. It was exciting to discover everything that goes into caring for different animals. But as my interests changed and I got a lot busier at the practice, I realized the
best way to serve my patients was to hone my skills in caring for cats and dogs.
When you work on such a variety of animals, it takes a lot longer to become truly skilled in their treatment. I might go for months between seeing a pet rabbit at the
hospital. If you don’t see and educate yourself on a regular basis, you can lose those skills. That’s why I decided to narrowmy skill set. Rather than tending to a menagerie of animals that I would never be an expert at, I’ve been able to become something of an expert at taking care of cats and dogs. Over the years, I’ve been able to bring on other veterinary associates who can take on other animals who aren’t cats and dogs. Dr. Steven McGinty, for example, is something of an expert in taking care of so-called“pocket pets,”like gerbils and rabbits.
Though I no longer have aspirations to take care of many different animals, I still enjoy a trip to a quality zoo. Over the last decades, zoos have evolved to not just care of their animals’physical needs, but also their mental and emotional well-being, too. Many zoos are also important in conservation efforts. They help preserve animal populations and give people the chance to discover and care about animals they would usually never encounter. April 8 is National Zoo Lovers Day, just in time for the nicer spring weather. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the zoo, there’s no better time to plan a family trip. Where else do you have a chance to meet so many amazing animals in one place?
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