Leigh-Ann Horned is a licensed veterinary technician and is the hospital manager/WILD-ONe coordinator at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Leigh-Ann is responsible for performing in-house diagnostics; teaching veterinary and vet tech students; working with the vet staff to complete daily patient treatments; supervising the diagnostic intern, vet tech students, and hospital volunteers; maintaining hospital inventory and seeking medical donations; and working with the veterinary director to develop WILD-ONe (the Center’s medical record database).
Why did you decide to become a veterinary technician?
I decided to become a veterinary technician after seeing the work that the vets and technician did at the Center, after I started as a rehab extern and then front-desk coordinator. I have always been a very right-brained person and the microscope work and attention to detail required to assess a wild patient as quickly and thoroughly as possible were intriguing to me.
What’s your favorite vulture story at the Center?
My favorite vulture patient is a toss up between a few of the vultures I have worked with. I absolutely love vulture babies! They are these fuzzy little cotton balls with a giant beak that doesn't seem to fit their body. I was also a fan of our former education ambassador Escher. I loved his feisty attitude and playfulness.
What’s the most challenging aspect of treating vultures in a wildlife hospital?
I find the most challenging aspect of treating vultures to be preventing regurgitation. It is their natural instinct to vomit as a defense against threats, and we look like big predators to them -- ones that poke them and stick our fingers down their throats when medicating them, so of course they want to throw up all over us. Getting them to keep their medication down can be quite challenging.
What’s your advice for those who want to work in the wildlife medicine field?
My advice for entering into the wildlife medicine field is to start by volunteering or externing with a local wildlife rehabilitator, rehab facility or any wildlife opportunity. As a volunteer or extern, you gain hands-on experience that can be an advantage when applying for the limited jobs available in wildlife medicine or rehabilitation.