Reflections on an Externship

I had no idea what to expect upon my arrival at the Wildlife Centre of Virginia. I have had my fair share of experiences working at various zoological collections -- places with thousands of animals and only a handful of staff to well-staffed organizations that specialise in only one or two species. I had never worked in a wildlife Centre until I came to Virginia.

My first day included a tour around the Centre. In the ICU, I saw baby squirrels being hand-fed; they were so cute that I actually had a tear in my eye. It was amazing to see the caregivers offering a syringe of specialised formula to the squirrel, its tiny body stretched out over the heated rice sock, and its small paws grasping for the nipple of the syringe to stuff it further into its mouth. It will be an image that I will never forget.

The most important skill that I learned during my time at the Centre was becoming comfortable with giving subcutaneous fluids. It is something that I can now say what I am confident giving fluids to both mammals and birds, which will be a great asset to me in for my future employment. I have also become very competent in handling and restraining all of the species of animals at the Centre using various methods of techniques; I'll definitely be able to apply to any animal-related job I may choose.

The thing that I will miss the most about the Centre will be the people that I worked and lived with. Working with the team in a unified and efficient manner is definitely a big part of what makes the day go faster. It was strange to arrive as the newbie and in only 12 weeks, become senior extern, having to say goodbye to the peers that trained me and helped me to feel at home. In turn, I became the one to welcome and train newcomers.

It is very sad to leave the Centre and friends that I have become so familiar with, however, I have gained knowledge and memories that I will never ever forget.

WCV Class of 2016