1. When did you start thinking
about becoming a vet?
I think I first thought about becoming a veterinarian when I was about 10 years old, and my new Lab puppy ran into a boulder on the beach and injured his shoulder. I was terrified that it couldn't be repaired, and the veterinarian we took him to did a great job. I was really impressed and inspired.
2. Why did you choose to become
a vet instead of another job?
Back in the middle ages, when I was planning to go to college, my advisor told me that the chances of a woman getting into Cornell's veterinary school ( I was a New York State resident ) were zero to none, despite my motivation and good grades in school. I tried Architecture, but all I could think of was that I wanted to work with animals- as a
veterinarian. I then found out that even at that time, the University of Pennsylvania had a more reasonable attitude toward women in the veterinary profession, so I moved to Pennsylvania, took some more science courses to meet the application criteria, and was accepted to Penn's Veterinary school.
3. What kind of education and
training did you need?
Right now, a bachelor's degree is needed (four years of college), with appropriate science courses included (although not all of the course work must be in the sciences) for entry into Veterinary school. Veterinary school is another four years ( the last year being hands-on clinical training), and some graduates also spend a year in an internship before
going into practice. After that education, veterinarians are qualified to take care of most general medical and surgical problems.There are also specialties in the profession, like ophthalmology, sports medicine, surgery, etc. There are residency programs at Universities which provide that special training for those who wish to be experts in a given area.
4. How long have you been taking
care of the animals at the Brandywine Zoo?
I have been part of the veterinary team taking care of the Brandywine Zoo animals for 15 years or more.
5. How often do you visit the
I visit the Zoo about every two weeks.
6. What kinds of things do
you do when you visit the zoo?
Anything from vaccinations and routine health checks and reviews of animals records, to anesthetizing and performing minor surgery on a tiger.
7. Do you ever have to make
tough decisions in your job?
One tough decision, with large zoo animals like tigers, is deciding whether the illness or injury is serious enough to make it necessary to anesthetize the animal (usually using a dart gun to deliver the anesthetics), so that a complete examination can be performed, perhaps with X-rays, ultrasound or other diagnostic tools. Because that procedure is somewhat stressful to the animals, we sometimes, at first, try to make a "best educated guess" at what the problem is, by carefully looking at the animal, and watching its behavior, how well it is eating, and so forth. Sometimes we actually may treat the animal, based on our best judgement, without having made a hands-on examination. That is not generally done in pet animals or in humans, because they don't have to be anesthetized to be examined.
8. When you are not at the
zoo, where do you work and what kinds of things do you do at that job?
When I am not at the zoo, I work at the University of Pennsylvania's Large Animal Hospital, New Bolton Center. My main job there is to anesthetize horses and other farm animals that need surgery, and to teach veterinary students. Occasionally I work at the Bronx Zoo in New York, or the Philadelphia Zoo, helping with animals such as walruses, okapi and wart hogs.
9. What is your favorite animal?
There are way too many wonderful animals to be able to choose a