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Good Wildlife Clinics for Internships

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by twosoakers, Apr 30, 2007.

  1. twosoakers

    twosoakers Addict & Western U '11
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    Hi all,

    I've spent time at several wildlife clinics in the country, and I've kind of run into the same thing repeatedly--controlling women who have me do their grunt work (pulling weeds, groundswork, scrubbing tupperware/cages, etc) rather than instructing me on the animal care (splinting, low-stress rads, shock care/prevention, etc.). Granted, I UNDERSTAND that cleaning is about 70% of maintaining animal health; however, understanding that a raptor cage should be cleaned twice daily isn't difficult to process/accomplish, neither is ensuring there is a constant supply of clean cat/dog carriers for the mass influx of raccoons during baby season--constructing pens for feeding fawns 'anonymously' and treating fractures is.

    I worked at two facilities in my time which were hostile environments (the last one I left here in Indiana after being called an 'effing idiot' for accidentally letting a chipmunk escape from its cage while I was cleaning--I had come back after the yelling at people dropping off animals; the phone throwing; the constant verbal abuse of the volunteers). Another lady had me out pulling weeds in front of her house to improve the facility's 'appearance.' I learned very little at either location, despite months of attendance.

    Does anyone have a healthy experience with a wildlife center, and would anyone recommend a wildlife center for internships? Thanks!
     
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  3. Mylez

    Mylez Member
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    I did. I had a great time. But this was after at least one year's of solid, hard work (grunge work, we called it poop ethic). So many people come just to be able to "play with the birds, animals, etc." and so few are actually dedicated. I think a lot of centers want to see that you are dedicated first before they will let you jump in on the neater stuff. Shortly before the center closed, I was in charge of wildlife rehab: raising baby birds, splinting, wound care, rads, physicals...you name it I did it. But I also did see so many people who just wanted in to touch a hawk, etc. and it is also important to get the cages clean. I think it's the same as at a vet's clinic: you have to work hard and show what you are made of first before you ask for favors.

    Personally, when I ran the program, I was desperate for people to help. I was more than eager to teach them things if they would give me their time too (ie, I teach you how to wrap an owl's feet, you come in and clean cages and exercise rehab birds). The more they learned, the more it helped me!

    But, yep. There are lot of controlling, stressed, strange people in wildlife rehab. It's why I love it so much! One of the better programs I've heard about (in my area) is CSU's (once CSU's) raptor program. You definitely have to work your way up through classes there, but I hear they love veterinary students!
     
  4. critterfixer

    critterfixer Veterinarian
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    Wow. I've never experienced anything like you describe, twosoakers. The wildlife refuge I volunteer at is staffed by wonderful people, from management to the techs. They are always grateful to have any help offered by volunteers, and always willing to teach me anything I want to learn. I've had songbirds and squirrels escape on my watch, and staff has never made me feel bad. They just helped me catch the little buggers.

    If you're willing to come to middle Tennessee, give Walden's Puddle a try. It's not a huge refuge, but it's a great place.
     
  5. Quaggi

    Quaggi Member
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    If you'd be willing to travel out to MA, you should take a look at the Cape Wildlife Center. They have a new vet now, but I worked there a few years ago and had a great time and learned a TON. plus cape cod is beautiful!
     
  6. silverelf

    silverelf Tufts Class of 2011
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    Yeah, I worked at the CWC last summer and it was fantastic!!

    (plus cheap housing, it was only 15/week...and you live right next to the beach)
     
  7. twosoakers

    twosoakers Addict & Western U '11
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    Awesome, thanks guys.

    There is a "working up through the ranks," and then there's coming for a six-hour shift and doing nothing but scrubbing, and then getting reprimanded if it didn't meet the specifications (case in point, the center was up for a photo shoot for a local newspaper ad. Three of us scrambled to clean the place--bleach the floors, de-mold the food, scrub the incubators--[I came in after working at the vet clinic and school all day], while the two ladies who ran the joint petered around, nursing the fauns). There's also getting reprimanded for asking about a splinting procedure on an animal and getting snapped at for speaking in front of the animal, while a few hours later, one of the heads screams her bloody head off in front of the whole raptor area because an individual doesn't have a car with which to drop off an injured juvy rabbit. When I quit, I was told I was "letting the animals down." Hardly.

    Anywho, I'm a bit scarred by these places. I will definitely check out the places you guys pointed out for my summers sans-Western.
     
  8. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member
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    You should also check out the Lindsay Wildlife Museum (http://wildlife-museum.org). They say: "The on-site wildlife rehabilitation center is one of the oldest and largest wildlife hospitals in the United States, treating nearly 6,000 injured or orphaned wild animals each year."

    Their volunteer program is pretty demanding - mandatory training in the fall/winter and a minimum time commitment through the spring/summer, so it might just not be a feasible thing to do while in vet school. (They have enough volunteers that their paid positions are pretty much limited to full-time year-round staff.) But the reason I mentioned them is, I asked their hospital coordinator if I could get a behind-the-scenes tour and got a resounding "NO" (too much demand, so they have a flat no-tour policy). But she *did* say that they take 4th years for externships. (If by "internship" you actually meant post-graduate training, I think for zoo/wildlife you need to do a standard rotating internship and then a residency - I don't know if Lindsay has a residency program.)
     
  9. OceanAngel

    OceanAngel NCSU c/o 2011
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    I am not sure of your willingness to travel twosoakers, but there is a wonderful wildlife clinic in central NC. The staff, vet, fellows and volunteers are all a delight and have respect for not only the animals but for everyone in the clinic as well. You start out immediately learning new things and everyone does grunt work including the vet. As soon as you show your dedication and competence you are shown more and more. The have both internships and fellowships each spring into summer (busy season). They are intense, but seem very worth it. There are good place out there, but I agree they can be hard to find. PM me if you want anymore info.
     
  10. Quaggi

    Quaggi Member
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    Yay I'm so glad to hear that it's still great even after Dr. Katie left (she was amazing). good times
     
  11. Mylez

    Mylez Member
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    Twosoakers,

    That's horrible! I can't imagine six hours shifts. I was happy to get people to come in throughout the day for half hour shifts, but then again we only handled birds. You have been quite unfortunate with your experiences.

    I retract the CSU statement if it's just for the summer. They require a lot of training to get to be a wildlife medicine person, so that might not work out for you. Good luck! Once you get in and start learning it's nearly impossible for someone to close the door on you!
     
  12. silverelf

    silverelf Tufts Class of 2011
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    aw, you never met Dr. Dan? The guy was hilarious! He basically made my whole experience :)
     
  13. BlueNewfie

    BlueNewfie Tufts Class of 2011

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    Hi twosoakers,

    I would highly recommend the internship at CROW, the clinic for the rehabilitation of wildlife on Sanibel Island, Florida. You will definitely still do a lot of cleaning at first, but all of the interns spend at least of couple of weeks (depending on how long your internship is--they require a month at least, I think) working with the veterinarians. During my internship, the vets also held daily rounds, so there was plenty of time to ask questions. It's a very respectful environment--respectful of both the volunteers working there and VERY respectful of the animals in their care. I learned a lot. They also offer a 6-month paid fellowship.

    Also check out the internship program at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. It's a minimum of 6 weeks and labor intensive. You won't have any direct contact with the elephants, but it's an incredible place and you will learn a lot. The sanctuary practices alternative, holistic medicine, if that interests you as well.
     
  14. zufuss

    zufuss Member
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    I am completing the fellowship program at crow. It is 6 month. The job is labor intensive and you work long hours. It is both hands on and at the same time hands off. There is always cleaning to be done, but even the veterinarians are scrubbing **** off the cages on a daily basis. It is the nature of the job.

    Before crow I was working at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida's wildlife rehabilitation clinic. I would HIGHLY recommend this facility. There are no veterinarians on staff. Only 3 rehabilitators and 5-6 interns. You will be heavily relied upon. You are directly responsible for the care of injured wildlife. This invovles tubing, wound management, patient check-in, examination, and an active process in the development of treatment regimes. You will also answer phones, and often be sent out on a number of rescues.

    I love CROW and the veterinarians on staff have an amazing knowledge of the more veterinary medicial aspect of rehabilitation, but you won't be as actively invovled in the medical treatment of the patients. The Conservancy will expect you to be more independant and because you are directly responsible for the care of the wildlife it can be more stressful. CROW has its own measure of stress because of the long hours.

    I would suggest applying to CROW for a fellowship. It will be far more impressive on your VET school application to have a recommendation from Dr. PJ or Amber. But then I highly suggest applying to the Conservancy after for another 6 months...Things will be different but then you gain an entirely different set of skills. The best part is the two clinics are only one hour away and both are amazing experiences.

    By the way were are talking the southernmost tip of western florida here. You will see one of the greatest variety of birds you can get anywhere. Gannets, Loons, Herons, Cranes, Pelicans, Flying Squirrel, Marsh Rabbit, Red-Shoulder hawks out the wazoo. Each facility sees a plethora of reptiles: Cooter, Box turtle, Soft-shells, Gopher Tortoises. If you spend 6 months at C.R.O.W you will see sea turtles. I have already handled a number of greens, a loggerhead, and we had a kemps-rigly(sp?) for a couple days.

    Conservancy:
    http://www.conservancy.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?&pid=374&srcid=354#WRC

    C.R.O.W:
    http://www.crowclinic.org/externship.cfm
     

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