There was as soon as a time in my life once I may solely dream about performing a bodily examination on a sedated jaguar within the Belizean jungle, however that dream, together with many others, turned a actuality as a scholar enrolled in Dr. Noha Abou-Madi’s Worldwide Expertise in Wildlife Well being and Conservation course. Cornell College Faculty of Veterinary Medication (CUCVM) has been partnered with the Belize Zoo since 2011 to offer state-of-the-art veterinary care whereas concurrently fulfilling the desires of adventurous veterinary college students trying to hone their medical abilities. After having to cancel this journey a number of instances all through the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Noha Abou-Madi couldn’t be extra excited to supply this course as soon as once more to these with profession targets involving wildlife and zoological medication. On this course, college students journey to the Belize Zoo the place they keep for per week to achieve hands-on expertise with numerous mammals, birds, and reptiles native to Belize.
Worldwide Expertise in Wildlife Well being and Conservation gives college students with alternatives that transcend the core curriculum, providing depth and breadth of data in zoological and conservation medication. Earlier scholar Sophie Yasuda ‘25 acknowledged, “considered one of my favourite elements of the journey was having the ability to take part in each facet of the animals’ veterinary care and find out about every element from educated veterinarians. With the ability to conduct bodily exams, monitor anesthesia, observe dental procedures, gather samples, and run lab work on species as majestic and various as jaguars and harpy eagles was an unbelievable expertise. As well as, it was a worthwhile studying expertise to work in an unfamiliar hospital and very rewarding to really feel our group flip right into a cohesive and close-knit crew.”
After working with an otter, kinkajou, and fer-de-lance, Erin Guntrum ‘25 recollects that her most memorable expertise of the journey was auscultating the guts of one of many jaguars. She thought that the guts sounds have been irregular, however she was unable to determine precisely what was irregular about them – a murmur, an additional coronary heart sound, an irregular rhythm, and so forth. She labored intently with Veterinary Resident of Zoological Medication Dr. Melissa Hanson to find a cut up S2 sound – one thing that Dr. Hanson defined is usually a regular discovering in a bigger animal the place the aortic and pulmonic valves don’t all the time shut with good synchronicity. This was a memorable expertise for Erin as a result of regardless of not having the ability to establish the precise coronary heart sound, she was capable of acknowledge a distinction between the guts sounds she heard within the jaguar and those she has been taught in CUCVM’s core curriculum. As a scholar growing her medical abilities, this felt like a win to Erin, and I agree!
The connection between the Belize Zoo and CUCVM is one which not solely fosters college students’ schooling and medical abilities as they pertain to zoological medication, but additionally as they pertain to conservation. The Belize Zoo is extremely dedicated to the animals inside their direct care, however additionally they look after those who stay past their gates. Erin Guntrum ‘25 recollects a lecture that we obtained highlighting the integral position that zoos play within the realm of conservation during which we discovered that the Belize zoo has been buying land to be utilized as wildlife corridors to as soon as once more join wild populations which have been separated by human institutions. Members of the Belize zoo are very conscious that the human inhabitants is increasing and so too is growth, nonetheless they’re making an attempt their finest to make sure that land exists for wildlife sooner or later.
The Belize Zoo’s conservation efforts have been very motivating for some, together with Sophie Yasuda ‘25 who acknowledged, “my choice to use to the course stemmed from my need to contribute to the preservation of untamed populations by way of a profession as a wildlife veterinarian. Throughout my time on the Belize Zoo, I used to be impressed not solely by the standard of veterinary care supplied by Cornell’s medical doctors, but additionally by the wonderful care supplied by the keepers on the zoo and the affect the zoo has on enhancing public notion of native wildlife. General, the expertise strengthened my need to make use of my veterinary diploma to contribute to wildlife conservation.” Emma Fralin ‘25 was additionally very inspired by the zoo’s conservation efforts and is definite that guests obtain the identical inspiration. She states, “the care that the animal keeper’s exemplified for his or her animals was virtually palpable. I’m assured that this care and respect interprets to each customer of the Belize Zoo.”
Worldwide Expertise in Wildlife Well being and Conservation is a course in contrast to another, providing an expertise of a lifetime. From monitoring the anesthesia of a spider monkey to drawing blood from a white-tailed deer within the area, you actually get to do all of it. This journey is a should for these looking for a well-rounded veterinary schooling in zoological, wildlife, or conservation medication. I believe Erin Guntrum ‘25 actually encapsulates how all of us felt after our expertise on the Belize Zoo when she stated, “I’ve all the time dreamed of being a zoo or wildlife veterinarian. And this journey was so particular as a result of it was actually the primary time that I acquired to stay out that dream – and it actually affirmed that that is what I wish to do, and that that is one thing I can do.”
Maison Scheuer is the 2022-2023 WildLIFE Weblog Editor and a proud member of Cornell ZAWS. Her passions lie on the intersection of veterinary medication and wildlife conservation. She likes to journey and has hung out in Canada, Thailand, Alabama, Belize, and Honduras the place she studied Columbian floor squirrels, elephant conservation, wildlife rehabilitation, and veterinary medication. Although significantly fascinated by One Well being and international medicine, she has additionally found a love for small animal medication by way of her expertise working as a veterinary technician at a full-service exotics and small animal personal observe.