The Denver Zoo has more than 3,500 different animals and their health is the results of the hard work of zookeepers and veterinarians.
The Denver Zoo has more than 3,500 different animals and their health is the results of the hard work of zookeepers and veterinarians. Veterinarians help cure the animals of any diseases or injuries. Without them, many animals would get sick and eventually die.
Every day veterinarians perform check-ups to ensure that all animals feel well. Dr. Scott Larsen, the Vice President of Veterinary Medicine of the Denver Zoo, said that they get sick or injured animals 2 or 3 times a week. The veterinarians address those diseases by using medicines or performing surgeries. They also design specific diets to ensure healing and prevent sickness in the future. Another part of the veterinarian’s job is to verify that the animal’s toys and food do not contain anything harmful.
Zoo veterinarians also keep precise records on the animals, make medicines, get involved with conservation projects, and assist in bringing in new animals. A very special situation happened a year ago when the Denver Zoo was bringing in Billy, the elephant from Belgium. The Zoo was carefully preparing for anything that might happen to Billy along the way. “We wanted him to be safe and secure,” said Dr. Scott Larsen, “and with an animal of this size, it was very challenging.”
The Denver Zoo is also trying to minimize the actions of putting animals to sleep in order to perform basic medical procedures such as checkups or vaccinations. So, to make it easier for the animals and for veterinarians, they are training animals to get shots.
Now the Denver Zoo is raising funds for a new giraffe device called SNUG. It looks like a big metal box into which the giraffes will be trained to walk into. The SNUG has little windows through which veterinarians will be able to work on the giraffe’s specific needs. It will also enable them to give the giraffe vaccinations without being in danger of its long neck. A healthy giraffe can swing its neck to protect itself.
To become a veterinarian, you have to complete several years of serious college education and training. For Dr. Larsen, it took 14 years of learning to become the professional he is now. “Being a veterinarian means you never stop learning and get to enjoy the hands-on experience”, shares Dr. Larsen. “I love feeling that you made a difference in an animal’s life.”
Do you love helping sick animals? If so, this is the job for you!