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A veterinary nurse takes notes

Thank you for caring for our animal residents, Leatitia!

National Veterinary Technician Week is October 16-22, and we’re celebrating with profiles of the Zoo’s veterinary nurses! Each provides quality, compassionate care to the animals who call our Zoo home. Their work is critical to our mission to help wildlife thrive!

Meet Leatitia:

How long have you been with the Zoo? I started working at the zoo in June 2021.

Education: I have a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Associates of Science in Veterinary Technology.

A veterinary nurse listens to a kangaroo's heart with a stethoscopeHow did you choose your field? About a year after completing my bachelor’s degree I was torn between a career in animal conservation and human medicine. A friend of mine was looking into the veterinary technician program at our local community college, and it interested me. I liked the idea of being able to have a career in medicine with animals. I also liked that I could work in either a zoo, aquarium or wildlife rehabilitation. I ended up starting the program that fall.

How would you describe your work at the Zoo? I am a nurse to all the animals at the zoo. My work includes but is not limited to assisting veterinarians during exams and surgeries, collecting samples for diagnostic testing, filling prescription medications and in-house lab work like fecal testing and blood smear evaluations.

What do you enjoy about your job? Every day is different. Even with a set schedule, things can change, and I never know what I am going to be doing next. I am also lucky be able to work with conservation and the Florida grasshopper sparrows, and rehabilitation with our sea turtles and animals from the Florida Wildlife Hospital.

What are some challenges about your work? The most challenging part of my job is also the most fun, working with a variety of animal species. There is a lot of studying and in some cases just hands-on experience needed to care for the animals at the Zoo. And on some days, I am working with some of our smaller animals to our larger ones, so I must adapt to the situation and make sure I am making the best decision for each animal.

What advice do you have for people who want to work in your field? I would start by volunteering at a local animal shelter, rehabilitation clinic or vet clinic. When I became interested in this field, I had no working experience with animals. I started volunteering at a wildlife bird rehabilitation clinic and fell in love. Always be willing to jump in and help however and whenever you can. Also, never stop learning. Having been in the field now for over ten years, I learn something new every day. Vet nursing can be challenging and stressful, at times, but the good outweighs the bad.

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.