Are Zoo Veterinarians In Demand

Daniel Brown
• Friday, 01 January, 2021
• 7 min read

Zoo veterinarians are specialists with advanced training in the treatment of exotic wildlife species who care for animals held in captivity. Their patients may include elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, lions, tigers, bears, parrots, aquatic animals, small mammals, reptiles, and many other species.

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Performing physical exams on animals Administering sedation Giving vaccinations Administering and prescribing medication Taking blood work and other samples Performing surgery Cleaning teeth Taking ultrasounds and radiographs Treating wounds Determining diets and feeding schedules Assisting with captive breeding programs Supervising zoo veterinary technicians Zoo veterinarians treat the injuries and illnesses of animals that live in zoos, as well as preventative medical care.

Education: All veterinarians graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVD) degree, which is achieved after completion of a demanding four-year course of study covering both small and large animal species. There are several accredited colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States that offer a DVD degree program.

Residents must also publish five times in peer-reviewed journals, complete a credentials package, and secure letters of recommendation. Problem-solving skills: Diagnosing an illness in animals takes logical thinking and educated guessing.

Administering treatment to animals can also present challenges and require adjustments based on each case. Communication and interpersonal skills: Working with potentially dangerous requires teamwork between veterinary and other zoo staff.

Copy to clipboard Bibliography: Study.com / Becoming a Zoo Veterinarian: Step-by-Step Career Guide. Bibliography: Study.com / Becoming a Zoo Veterinarian: Step-by-Step Career Guide.

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Much of your time will be devoted to emergency situations, often to treat injuries received by the wild and sometimes unpredictable animals in your care. You will also diagnose sickness, give appropriate treatment and prescribe medication to help to ail animals regain health.

You will regularly confer with zookeepers and veterinary technicians, and will make recommendations on living arrangements for zoo animals. While treating exotic animals, you may come across unique medical situations that leave you undecided about the best treatment.

You must earn a bachelor's degree or a minimum of 45 college credits in pre-veterinary courses at the undergraduate level. You may then complete a zoological medicine residency of 3-4 years in a training program under the auspices of the ACM.

As an alternative to the ACM training program, you can work for a minimum of six years in zoological medicine. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in May 2018, veterinarians employed by museums, historical sites and similar institutions, including zoos, earned an average yearly salary of about $88,460.

Surgeons often work with physicians and specialize in performing operations to help correct or remove damaged and diseased tissues. Medical scientists also work to improve human health, but they tend to stay in the laboratory.

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Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, licensing and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Those enrolled in veterinary technology courses curious about the current state of large-animal veterinarians will be intrigued to know that rural areas are in dire need of more certified professionals.

This decrease is impacting access to veterinary assistance in rural areas, which are dependent on the health of livestock to progress national agriculture production. Not being able to swiftly take action in treating a possible outbreak is a health concern that could devastatingly affect our nation’s food supply.

Wyatt Freya, a project manager for the Center for Rural Affairs, explained to Harvest Public Media how lack of livestock to treat also can impact business for veterinarians. “Identifying diseases and preventing them is important for the livestock industry everywhere in the world,” Freya told Harvest Public Media.

The role of large animal veterinarians Focusing on more livestock requires a vast knowledge of medical equipment that’s predominantly used to identify and treat various illnesses. Understanding veterinary technology programs is extremely beneficial to this position, as there are many instances where use of instruments and devices come into play, such as X-rays, ultrasounds, providing vaccinations and more.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the average annual salary of a veterinarian is just over $84,000 a year, a number that could continue to increase as demand remains high throughout the U.S. With such a need for large-animal veterinarians throughout rural areas in the country, there are plenty of opportunities for upcoming graduates to thrive within this job market. Zoo veterinary technicians are specially trained and certified to assist zoo veterinarians with exams and procedures.

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They may work with animals of all types and sizes and have a wide range of responsibilities within the zoo setting. The duties of zoo vet techs can vary depending on where they work and the types of animals they care for.

In general, routine tasks may include assisting with general exams, collecting samples, running diagnostic lab tests, preparing surgical sites, changing bandages, inserting catheters, taking radiographs, administering fluids, filling prescriptions, and giving intravenous or intramuscular injections. Depending on the requirements of the state where they live, they may also need to pass an exam to become licensed, certified, or registered.

The organization keeps a list of these accredited veterinary colleges on its website and updates it biannually. The Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians offers the Veterinary Technician Specialists (ITS)- Zoo certification to vet techs that have completed at least 10,000 hours of work experience in the field of zoological medicine.

Veterinary technicians meeting these significant requirements are eligible to take the zoological medicine certification exam that is administered once each year to receive the official ITS- Zoo designation. Their duties can include assisting with general exams, collecting samples, running diagnostic lab tests, changing bandages, administering fluids, and more.

Zoo vet techs usually need to complete at least a two-year degree in veterinary technology, but to become specially certified in zoological medicine they need more extensive training and must pass a certification exam. The capture method, particularly on lions and other large zoo animals, made it difficult for veterinarians to take x-rays or perform diagnostic tests.

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A typical daily round of a zoo veterinarian might involve checking on an artificially-inseminated elephant, the healing skin abrasions of a giant anteater and anesthetizing a Burmese python. The veterinarian makes daily rounds to detect and prevent health problems from developing to the point of endangering a species.

An education in veterinary medicine specializing in wildlife can provide opportunities for travel, working in zoos in the Middle East, Sumatra and all over the world to improve their techniques for treatments. The opportunity to treat a sick tiger, leopard, walrus, giraffe or hippo in their own country provides exotic excitement and the chance to work with colleagues and handlers who know their native animals well.

Exotic animal vets are not limited to practicing in a zoological or wildlife setting anymore. The duties of an exotic animal vet include issuing vaccinations, performing surgery and providing emergency care when needed.

The popularity of exotic animals has also led to advanced techniques that help to diagnose and treat all kinds of ailments. Providing medical care to rodents, such as hamsters and guinea pigs, takes a different approach than treating reptiles, such as turtles and lizards.

That is why exotic animal vets are well-trained in the proper precautionary measures to take when administering medical treatment. As previously mentioned, exotic animal hospitals are beginning to become more common in cities throughout the United States.

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Aquariums and wildlife conservation are a couple of more places where an exotic animal vet can establish a long-term career. The educational route to becoming an exotic animal vet begins with a Bachelor’s Degree that provides a strong background in the sciences.

During that process, applicants will be asked to provide their prior work experience in a veterinary setting. Veterinary colleges are seeking to admit applicants who’ve already accumulated a good amount of experience working with animals.

Since there are not a great abundance of exotic animal vets, those who are looking to enter into this field should consider applying to one of those particular veterinary colleges. During that final year, students have the chance to actually work on exotic animals in a real veterinary setting.

This distinction will enable graduates to seek out employment, although they could be required to take on an internship to gain more experience before earning a position as a full-time exotic animal veterinarian. Residencies are also offered to help recent graduates enhance their abilities as an exotic animal vet.

Because of the uniqueness of the profession, exotic animal vets make a broad range of salaries that check in between $60,000 and $100,000 per year. Meanwhile, a wildlife conservation center may not have the same kind of funding, which results in a lower pay rate for exotic animal vets.

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Veterinary Boards from each state set the guidelines that need to be met before a license is issued. Candidates must earn a passing score on a statewide examination, while some states have other stipulations that need to be met as well.

There are only a couple dozen diplomats thus far as this distinction requires a lot of time, experience and commitment. The latest news, resources and events affecting wildlife veterinarians are brought together on this association’s website.

Vets who focus medical care on avian species can turn to this association for an abundance of resources and information.

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