Behind the Scenes banner
A female veterinarian holding a small sea turtle.

Dr. Rachel is especially excited to be working with our sea turtle patients!

We are incredibly proud to announce that we have a new staff veterinarian working with us: Dr. Rachel Turner! Rachel made the long journey from Alabama to Brevard County to settle into her new role with us last month. With our L3 Harris Animal Care Center being behind-the-scenes, we wanted to introduce you to this new Zoo team member and get her insights on what it’s like to care for our Zoo residents so far.  

Briefly explain your career history leading you to this new position here. I did undergrad – receiving a Bachelor of Science in animal science – and veterinary school at North Carolina State University. I also attended a small animal rotating internship at the University of Pennsylvania, an exotics specialty internship at Tufts University, residency in Zoological Medicine at the University of Florida and, most recently, spent two-and-a-half years as the Associate Veterinarian at the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham, AL.  

What drew you to this position at the Brevard Zoo? I’m excited about the animal training and wellbeing programs here at the Zoo, and the quality of the veterinary care program was a big draw. Plus, Kyle Donnelly, a former Brevard Zoo veterinarian and my past resident-mate, said she loved it here. I knew I would too.  

What do you like to do outside of work? Any hobbies? I do CrossFit, hang out with my cats and enjoy doing anything outdoors, like riding bikes, hiking and kayaking. I also love reading horror novels (think Stephen King) and watching dumb reality TV shows (Love is Blind is my current favorite). Also, I’m a big fan of North Caroline State wolfpack sports.   

What made you want to become a veterinarian? Particularly a Zoo veterinarian? I’ve known I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was a little kid! I’ve always been drawn to animals and science, and I wanted to learn how to help animals that were sick. I became interested in zoo medicine because I grew up reading National Geographic and was always fascinated with the diversity of animals and the conservation challenges on our planet. When I got older and discovered that I could combine those interests into one career, I was sold.  

Do you have a species that you’re particularly excited to be working with here? I’m excited about the sea turtles and other native Florida wildlife, like Florida grasshopper sparrows and Perdido Key beach mice. I also love the diversity of species that I get to work with every day, and I really can’t narrow it down to one species! 

What are you most excited about going into this new job? I’m excited to get to know the amazing team of people who work here and to provide voluntary medical care via the animal training programs. 

Anything you’re apprehensive about? The summer heat! Alabama gets hot, but not Florida hot.  

Anything else you’d like to add to help people get to know you?  I tend to be laid-back and love meeting new people! Feel free to say “hi” if you see me around Zoo grounds! 

Special thanks to Flammio Financial Group, Stifel-Garvin Wealth Management Group, Artemis IT, and Jim and Darleen Barfield. Their generosity makes our work possible! 

Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.