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Zoo volunteering

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by NotAngie, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. NotAngie

    2+ Year Member

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    I'm lucky enough to live close the the National Zoo and they are always looking for volunteers. So I have two questions related to the zoo.

    Would working as a keepers aide be good "animal" experience? Even if the majority of the work is cleaning cages and preparing food mixes.

    And just for fun, if you were going to volunteer at the zoo, what type of animals would you work with, or what type of animals have you worked with?
     
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  3. Angelo84

    Angelo84 Tufts Class of 2011
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    I volunteered as a keeper's aide at Zoo New England (Franklin Park) and worked with hooves and horns--giraffe, zebra, bongos, camels, lion, wildbeest, ostrich,ibex, cranes, and hornbills. It is considered animal experience.
     
  4. ShelterGirl

    ShelterGirl UC Davis SVM 2012
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    Yes, being a keeper aide counts as animal experience, not veterinary. However, it adds something interesting to your application if you get to work with atypical species. I got asked about it at one of my interviews last year (I had worked with hoofstock, tortoises, and lemurs).
     
  5. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    Did you know Snuffles then? The prehensile tail porcupine that was one of their program animals?
     
  6. tnpfan

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    I shadow the vet at a small zoo close to my university. It's only once a week, but it's really fun. Sadly next semester I won't be able to shadow anymore because my botany class interferes. I wouldn't mind so much if it was something other than botany. :thumbdown:
     
  7. Angelo84

    Angelo84 Tufts Class of 2011
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    No I didn't work in the education program.
     
  8. halesvet

    halesvet UPenn c/o 2013
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    I was an intern at the Lehigh Valley Zoo near my University for a summer where I was basically a keeper, I just wasnt allowed to do things without supervision. I worked with hoofstock/large (zebras, camels, audads, goats, deer, ponies, kangaroos, ostrich, elk, and bison), carnivores (raptors, wolves, lynx, otters), and some small (parrots, lorikeets)

    I put is down as animal experience. It was by far my favorite internship :love:, i recommend that everyone volunteer at a zoo just because the variety is so exciting.:D
     
  9. cozycleo

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    I'm actually just talking to a local zoo right now about volunteer work. Even though it's not vet experience, it does sound really interesting.
     
  10. Mylez

    Mylez Member
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    I highly recommend volunteering at a zoo. Volunteering at our "local" zoo (1 1/2 hours away!) is one of the things that managed to open countless doors for me in this career path. It allowed me to know enough people that I was eventually offered a job AND allowed to shadow the zoo vets (something the vets typically did not do, but did because they trusted the curator's opinion of me).

    Now, because of THAT, I have a guaranteed spot at the zoo doing a veterinary externship my fourth year. I highly recommend it - make sure you are dedicated, memorable, and so on, especially if this is a field you are interested in pursuing.
     
  11. DrKsomeday

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    I would so second the posts that said this experience will open doors for you! I started volunteering at my local zoo about two years ago. I did it in conjunction with research work for an undergrad course. I earned credit and gained animal experience. Talk with your biology/pre-vet advisor to see if you can do some type of "research" work. I'm talking undergrad research so 95% of the time it will be observation based. If your school will ok it then talk with the zoo. Couple that with volunteering and you can accomplish two things at once. I took observations while working with the Keepers.

    The irony was my observations started out a bit dorky from the Keepers perspective but eventually they kind a got into it. They also taught me a ton which was very cool. When I was done with my report I had my advisor at school review all of it. Then I submit it to the Zoo Vet for her review. She liked my work and was impressed this landed me a volunteer spot in the Vet Department. Then in a random turn of events her tech decided to leave for other work. Since I work as a Vet Assistant at a small animal practice the Zoo Vet offered me the zoo vet tech position! I nearly fainted. :eek:

    Granted I'm under qualified compared to her former tech, but the Vet trust me and I am learning a TON! The Zoo vet also wrote one of my LOR's this round and it was by far a home run letter!

    Keep in mind I did big time grunt work for all of this. Scooping elephant poop, hosing out the hippo's area, dishes, cleaning children’s zoo barn, trash detail, coming in on holidays, and working as volunteer for free for almost 2 years. However, it gave me an in. That’s the key then it's up to you to knock their socks off!

    I also want to mention that the field is small so chances are the Vet at your zoo knows the vet at every other zoo or knows someone who knows them. Then if you go on travel somewhere you can ask for them to introduce you. It's a great way to network! I’ve also been able to attend an exotic animal conference with the zoo vet. It never hurts to find a mentor.

    Just be prepared for the Keepers to be a bit hard on you at first. Work hard and they’ll come around to liking you. It’s a tight community so it’s hard to fit in at first but once your in it’s amazing!

    All the best, let us know how it turns out!:luck:
     
  12. Ben and Me

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    The National Zoo also likely has a zoo hospital--you should pester them until they let you know who the volunteer coordinator is for that location. I know the Bronx Zoo has a slew of undergrad volunteers over Christmas and summer breaks.
     
  13. NotAngie

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    There's a volunteer opening right now in the primate area. I think I might start out there. A friend who volunteers there told me that if you get started and get people to like you they will tell you when other positions are opening up.
     
  14. MooSuga

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    I just started volunteering at Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, NYC. It's a small zoo and they don't have many animals.

    I get small amount of animal handling with small creatures like rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, snakes, lizard, etc. they have sea lions, red pandas, etc at the zoo. I'm hoping that I can make good terms with all the staff at the zoo...that I can somehow get my way into the Bronx Zoo Hospital.

    keeping my fingers crossed....
     
  15. Klhughes

    Klhughes Tennessee Class of 2011
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    During my senior year of undergrad I did an internship with with the Cape May Zoo in southern NJ where I was basically a keeper for the summer. It was a great experience because I want to do zoo medicine. At this zoo there was only one other keeper there that was trained as a vet tech so our zoo vet was happy to let me help when he had to treat the animals. It has also given me a great contact for the future. This past semester I actually contacted him again after a few years away and the vet has offered to sponsor me for my externship during 4th year clinic rotations. Its not easy to get zoo externships so if you can make contacts now do it.
     

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