How to become a wildlife veterinarian

  • Jobs for wildlife veterinarians range from taking care of small pets in a pet clinic to analyzing and treating eagles, giraffes and anacondas in a zoo. Wildlife vets specialize in wild animal medicine which offers a unique set of test within the job description. Wildlife vets must become specialists in dealing with a wide range of different species with unique anatomy. Wild animals have the capability of hiding their illness and health issues for long time and this is a part of their survival instinct. So once it becomes evident that a wild animal is sick, it means that it is a very emergency situation. This makes the job of a wildlife veterinarian more challenging than working with small domestic animals. It is also a job that involves lots of excitement and the vets gets the opportunity to get to know about novel medical treatments when new cases arrive.

  • Wildlife veterinarian’s job duties

    Job duties of a wildlife vet include monitoring eating habits and other behaviors of animals, develop meal plans for animals that meet their nutritional needs, examining animals by conducting physical exams, x-rays and blood works, monitor breeding programs of endangered wild species, developing innovative treatments for wild animals and work closely with other wild animal care team members. A wildlife veterinarian has similar job responsibilities as that of a Zookeeper. The job demands you to work in a vet hospital setting or in the animal’s habitat. Animals always need care no matter whatever the condition is. So you must be ready to work on weekends, in winds and night. Wildlife vests are also at the risk of injury from animals and are also exposed to illness on a daily basis.

    Wildlife veterinarian education and training

    All wildlife veterinarians have to graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree which can be achieved after completing specific courses that covers small and large animal groups. Currently there are around 28 colleges of vet medicine in the United States that offers a degree to their students. After graduating from a vet school, aspiring wildlife vets must pass the North American Veterinary exam, which awards a license to students. Statistics show that every year, approximately 26000 new vets enter the vet field, but only a very small percentage of vets shifts their practice to wildlife or exotic animals.

    There are many professional associations for wildlife vets and The American Veterinary Medical Association is the most prominent among them, having about 90,000 practitioners. Even the vets who are practicing, have membership with the American Veterinary Medical Association. The European Association of Zoo and Wildlife vets is another famous association for wildlife vets and have 600 plus members from 48 different countries. The association publishes professional research papers and they occasionally host scientific meetings every year to promote advancements in the field of wildlife.

    Wildlife veterinarian salary information

    The approximate salary of all wildlife vets comes around $40 per hour or $83,000 on an average. According to the salary survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary prospectus of wildlife vets increases up to 10 percent every year. Board certified wildlife vets who specialize in a specific area such as oncology or surgery have the opportunity to pull up higher salaries due to their education and experience in the field.

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