The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, Inc. (NAVTA) recognizes the third week of October every year as National Veterinary Technician Week. This annual event recognizes veterinary technicians for their contributions in the best possible care for all animals. Veterinary technicians are educated in the latest medical advances and skilled at working alongside veterinarians to give animals the best medical care possible.
Here at Nashville Zoo, we have three wonderful veterinary technicians on our veterinary team. Learn a little more about our Vet Techs, Bailey Jones, Kelsey Robertson, and Hospital Manager Stephen Wancea.
1. What is your background and how did you get your current job?
"I knew from a young age I wanted to be a zoo vet and work with tigers. I had a collection of 30 tiger stuffed animals. My first job was as a dog bather at a small animal clinic. I worked my way up to a kennel tech, then started the vet tech program, and eventually became a licensed vet tech. I graduated in 2011 and am licensed in both TX and TN. I have worked as a tech in general practice, overnight ER, Oncology, Medical Research, and Ringling Bros. before getting the Nashville zoo job."
2. What are some of the pros and cons of the job?
"Pros: We are able to work with a variety of exotic species, and every day is different. We contribute to conservation and get to be a small part of saving endangered animals. Cons: Every day is different, meaning it can get a bit chaotic at times, it can also mean long hours and canceled plans as in any animal field."
3. What has been your most memorable moment during your zoo career?
"There are too many to count! Any time we help raise babies, anytime I get to draw blood on an animal I've never worked on before. There's at least one moment each day that I look around and thank God for allowing me to be a part of this field!"
4. What do you love outside of animal care?
"I love spending time with my family, friends, and of course my basset hound Dexter and cat Purrcy. Hobbies are hiking, reading, and traveling."
1. Why did you choose to become a Vet Tech?
"I've been interested in veterinary medicine since I was a little kid, fueled by my passion for helping animals and learning as much as I can about them. I chose to become a veterinary technician because I wanted to focus on patient care and have an active role in cases from start to finish."
2. What is your favorite part of your job?
"My favorite part of my job is that every day holds a new challenge. What works for a large giraffe, definitely won't work for a baby flamingo and we are constantly having to adapt and learn from each case we see."
"The most memorable moment of my zoo career actually happened here at Nashville Zoo. I assisted with eland dystocia back in May where our sweet baby Murray was born. I was in charge of caring for the calf once he was pulled with Dr. Heather leading the effort to assist mom, Indigo. It was amazing seeing everyone work together towards a common goal, especially since we thought we had already lost the calf due to complications. I'll never forget when Murray vocalized for the first time and I knew my efforts were paying off. Helping him stand for the first time, giving him his first bottle, and caring for him throughout the night was an experience I'll never forget."
"Outside of animal care, I love running and being active outdoors. I also enjoy reading and snuggling with my fur babies while we watch baking competitions on tv."
Please join the Zoo in thanking our Veterinary Technicians for all they do to care for our animals!
"I have always been interested in the medical field, but after two internships working at both a wildlife rehabilitation center and a wildlife refuge, I developed a great appreciation for the work that goes into taking care of animals, especially the non-domesticated. I decided I wanted to combine my passion for animals and medicine by being a vet tech with the ultimate goal of one day getting to be in a place where I could help exotic animals like those I worked with previously. I knew it wouldn’t always be glamorous or easy, but I figured the rewards would be worth it. I’m proud to be where I am now and my path to get here."
"It’s hard to narrow down a specific part, but collectively, my favorite part of my work is knowing that it opens the door for so many unique experiences. I have already been able to work with a potpourri of animals, go new places, meet amazing people, and learn daily. Everyday can hold something new because of my work—even when I’m not at work! I’m not sure everyone can say that about their profession."
"This is a near impossible question to answer because there are many that are memorable but for different reasons. One that sticks out though, is being on my second day of work in a zoo, ever, and having to assist in a major emergency surgery on a Japanese Macaque. Anyone that works with primates can understand the challenges in that! Luckily my past surgical training kicked in, because I had no time to be nervous or unsure when things needed to move quickly. After everything was over and the animal was recovered it hit me that I just had an amazing introduction into the zoo medicine world!"
"I don’t think many people in the zoo and/or veterinary world can say that they are “outside” of animal care because we often have animals waiting for us at home! Other interests I have though are: playing sports, outdoor activities, random adventures with friends, reading, being crafty (when inspiration strikes), and when life variables allow for it…traveling."
Whether you’re available for a day or are looking for a long-term volunteer opportunity – you can make a valuable contribution to the Zoo’s volunteer team!
Nashville Zoo relies on your support to continue providing extraordinary animal care and education programs for the community, as well as our critical conservation initiatives.