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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Busch Gardens

I just had to let everyone know about this new offering by Busch Gardens.

The reason I bring this up relates to an experience I had many years ago. I was looking for a job – I needed a change after working in research for many years and wondered what it would be like to live in Florida. Knowing that I would be vacationing in Orlando in the fall, I applied for a job at Busch Gardens in Tampa.

At the time, Busch Gardens was not in need of a veterinary technician, the position I applied for, but they offered to interview me any way just in case an opening occurred in the future. I was happily surprised to learn, upon my arrival in Florida, that my interview would be an all day thing showing me what went on in the veterinary unit. We only had one car so my sisters dropped me off while they spent the day at Daytona Beach.

I felt so privileged to see what a “typical” day would be for a vet tech at Busch Gardens. Of course, typical is a misnomer. Every day is different when you work with wild animals in a public entertainment facility. First I got a tour of the veterinary facility including watching a minor surgery on a gazelle. They may look like gentle, graceful creatures but when it comes to being handled they can be quite dangerous. At any time their hooves can cut into a human leg causing extreme damage. Needless to say they also have huge, dangerous horns (or antlers, I don’t know which).

Not real animals, not Busch Gardens
Next I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the animal enclosures. I rode in a jeep (first time for that too) around a fenced-in area where the larger animals were free to run. It was easy to pretend I was on a safari far from home looking for endangered species. I saw so many animals up close, like giraffes, water buffalo, elephants, big cats, etc. – it was thrilling.

not in the nursery
Then the vet tech took me to the nursery. I wondered, if I couldn’t get a job as a vet tech at Busch Gardens maybe I could work as a nursery tech. This is where young animals who have been abandoned by their mothers go for intensive care. Or other young animals who might not be doing well enough on their own, receive special care and supplements to their regular diet. They showed me the most adorable baby chimp as his caretaker bottle-fed him. He was just like a human baby. And I watched a very young Macaw hatchling, very weak and vulnerable, trying so hard to down his food from a dropper. I could have spent all day in that nursery.

After an informal interview with the veterinarian and a closer look around the clinic, they turned me loose to spend the rest of my day in the park. The only other time I had an experience anything like this was when I visited Sea World and bought a ticket for a “backstage” tour. I’ll have to tell you about that some time.  :)
At SeaWorld, birth of new calf!

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