The Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden is celebrating National Zookeeper Week – taking place from July 16 through July 22! While this week is geared toward zookeepers in particular, it's also important to note that the Zoo's veterinary staff plays a vital role in caring for the animals as well. Today, we're highlighting Julia Jones, a veterinary technician (animal nurse) who collaborates with our team of zookeepers every day to ensure that each animal at the Zoo remains healthy.
How long have you worked at the Zoo?
I have worked at the Oklahoma City Zoo for 4.5 years
What is a typical day like in your position?
My days vary depending on the needs of the animals that we care for. As a veterinary technician, I participate in routine health exams and emergency procedures. I also spend a large portion of time in the lab of the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital – processing blood, fecal and other samples collected from the animals.
Do you have a particular animal that you feel a closer bond with?
Because I have the opportunity to work with every animal at the Zoo, there isn’t one particular animal that I feel a close bond with, however, there are animals that I really enjoy working with. For example, I like working with the rhinos on voluntary medical procedures such as blood draws and radiographs.
What's your favorite memory been?
My favorite memory at the Zoo has been helping to hand-raise flamingo chicks. Every morning, the vet staff would assist the zookeepers with feeding and recording morning weights. Watching them grow from hatchlings to adults in just a few short months was extremely rewarding. These chicks have since gone on to join their flock but some of them still remember us.
What inspired you to pursue this career?
I was inspired to pursue this career so that I could help to provide the best medical care to animals in human care. Helping provide stress-free medical care to our Zoo animals is a top priority to me, which is why I work with zookeepers every day to train animals to participate in voluntary medical procedures.
Why do you feel that Zoos are important?
Zoos teach individuals about what is present in the world, while also bringing awareness to what is disappearing outside of their homes. I feel that in order for humans to care about disappearing habitats and species, they need to know what species are out there to build a connection.
What cause are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about recycling and cleaning up our waterways from trash and plastics.
What is your favorite conservation program that the Zoo partakes in?
I have really enjoyed participating in the Texas Horned Lizard Project at Tinker Air Force Base.
– Julia Jones, veterinary technician