A Day in the Life of a Registered Veterinary Technician at the San Diego Zoo Hospital

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The RVTs at the Zoo have a diverse patient list that can include animals like this Baird’s tapir.

Many people ask me if I love my job here at the “World Famous” San Diego Zoo. I am one of six clinical registered veterinary technicians (RVT) working alongside the Zoo’s veterinarians to help care for and maintain the health of the animal collection. We are a highly skilled group of professionals that strive to deliver state-of-the-art care for the many unique animals that call the San Diego Zoo home.

We work with a diverse range of animals every day. First thing in the morning, we meet in the treatment room of the hospital to look over the list of the day’s scheduled procedures. We divide the list among ourselves, each taking on a different case or cases that we will help with that day.

On this particular day, we have a sun bear coming to the hospital for an annual exam, which includes blood work, radiographs, dental check, sample collection, and ultrasound. We also have a rattlesnake that needs an eye exam, several birds that need physicals, a yellow-footed rock wallaby that needs radiographs and a Caribbean flamingo that needs a bandage changed as well as laser therapy on one of his legs! Since all of these procedures will take place in the hospital building, each animal has a scheduled appointment time.

We will also visit some animals on grounds today: a Baird’s tapir for blood collection and a Queensland koala for fluid therapy (while he sits in his tree). Also, one of our ambassador dogs will have his ears cleaned, a giant panda will get his blood pressure checked, and we’ll provide laser therapy on a little chick’s swollen foot at the Avian Propagation Center. Whew!

Even though some days at the hospital can be incredibly busy and mentally draining, I feel grateful and honored to be able to work with this amazing array of animals. It’s rewarding to know that my job allows me to help each animal individually, and also contribute to wildlife conservation as a whole.

So, do I love my job? I most certainly do!

Marianne Zeitz is a registered veterinary technician at the San Diego Zoo.

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