The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is celebrating National Veterinary Technician Week by celebrating our hard-working vet tech trio, including Liz McCrae, profiled below.
Veterinary technicians are critical to the day-to-day function of veterinary practices, and play vital roles in preserving animal health and welfare. National Veterinary Technician Week provides an opportunity to recognize veterinary technicians’ contributions. First celebrated in 1993, National Veterinary Technician Week takes place in the third week of October each year.
How long have you worked at the OKC Zoo?
LM: I have worked at the OKC Zoo for almost 10 years!
What inspired you to become a vet tech?
When I was in college, I actually wanted to be a zookeeper. I started working at the Columbus Zoo as a Children's Zoo keeper in my senior year at Ohio State, and I got the chance while there to see what vet techs do, and the important role they played in animal health. After that, I was hooked and changed my career plans.
What prepared you for a career of caring for exotic wildlife?
Starting out as a keeper really helped. And my veterinary technician program included a Lab & Exotic Animal Medicine course, which was taught by a Zoo veterinarian, so I learned a lot and had a great knowledge base when I started working in Zoo Medicine.
Do you have a favorite memory?
I have a lot of favorite memories after so many years in zoo medicine, but one of the memories that sticks out the most was the birth of our first elephant calf, Malee. It was such an important milestone for the Zoo and the elephant and vet teams, and it was so special to be a part of it.
Is there a typical day in the life of a vet tech?
There is no typical day in the life of a zoo tech. Something always seems to come up and change the plan for the day. On days that this doesn't happen, we start of with treatments of any hospitalized cases. We often have exams in the mornings, where the technicians are responsible for anesthesia, radiography, dental cleanings and diagnostic samples collection. The afternoons are spent performing lab work, including fecal analysis and bloodwork. Any free time during the day is spent filling prescriptions, entering medical records into the computer, helping with necropsies, and restocking supplies. This is just some of what the technicians are responsible for.
What is your favorite part about working at the OKC Zoo?
I love our collection, and I enjoy working with our team and the animal teams.
Do you have a favorite OKC Zoo animal? If you do, why are they your favorite?
I actually have three favorites: Niki the Indian rhino, Buster the Hyacinth macaw, and Elok the Sumatran orangutan. Indian rhinos are my favorites of the rhino species, and Niki and I came to the zoo around the same time. She is adorable, and I love her cute little "moo" when she's hungry. Buster spent a few months in the hospital for an eye issue and we bonded while she was there. She would hang out with me while I entered records, and I would preen her feathers. And Elok and I worked together on voluntary blood collection and bonded over our ginger hair and stinky Durian fruit candies.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
The highlight of my career so far is becoming a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Zoo Medicine in 2015. It is a very proud achievement to be part of such an amazing group of zoo veterinary technicians.
What do you want our followers to know about vet techs?
Vet techs play such an important role in veterinary medicine, in all fields of veterinary medicine. They are an advocate for their patients, and they have an enormous amount of responsibility. Their veterinarians rely heavily on them in practice, just as human doctors rely on their nurses. And no, veterinary technicians are not just doing this job while they wait to get into vet school, which is a question that we receive all to frequently. While some do decide to pursue a career as a veterinarian, the majority of us are doing exactly what we want to do and couldn't be happier doing it.
What’s a fun fact about you?
Like many other vet techs, my work doesn't end when I clock out. I have a house full of animals at home (3 dogs and 1 cat), and I love spending time with them and the other 7 dogs in our family. I also love cheering for Ohio State and Cleveland Browns football, bowling in a league with my husband and brother on Sundays, and spending time with my family, friends, and adorable 4-year-old nephew.