Katy Klein, a veterinary preceptee in the Fossil Rim Animal Health Department, recently detailed vaccine use for the facility’s animal population.
Why are vaccines important?
“Vaccines prime the immune system to better prepare for when or if the animal comes into contact with a disease later in its life,” Klein said. “Priming means the body is making antibodies against a particular pathogen. Vaccines are an important tool used in preventive medicine, because the best protection is prevention.”
Who gets vaccinated at Fossil Rim?
“Giraffes, carnivores, Hartmann’s mountain zebras, dama gazelle, rhinos, cranes, and red deer,” Klein said. “There are even more vaccination candidates, such as the sheep and goats of the Children’s Animal Center.”
What does the animal health team vaccinate for?
“One of the biggest concerns is public safety, so a lot of our animals that are in contact with people get vaccinated for rabies,” she said. “Rabies is a serious zoonotic disease that can infect both animals and humans. Each Fossil Rim animal may get vaccinated for different diseases that their respective populations are susceptible to.”
How are the Fossil Rim animals vaccinated?
“We utilize a number of tools including darts, pole syringes, or simply hand injections like what happens for humans at the doctor’s office,” Klein said. “So, don’t be alarmed if you see a pink puff ball hanging off the side of a giraffe. That means we recently darted a giraffe with a vaccine and the bright color helps us locate the dart when it falls off the animal.”
As for Klein, she will be graduating from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois in May.
“I am interested in pursuing a career in wildlife conservation medicine and research, and I will be doing a one-year internship at a veterinary hospital in Milwaukee that starts this summer,” she said. “My time at Fossil Rim started with colder weather than I expected in Texas, but it ended up being an amazing experience. I gained a lot of knowledge that I can apply to both wildlife and zoo medicine in the future.
“I honestly wished I was able to stay longer than just three weeks. Fossil Rim is a one-of-a-kind institution that I highly recommend to anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area!”
-Veterinary Preceptee Katy Klein & Marketing Associate Tye Chandler