For Veterinary Technician Week (Oct. 15-21), we’re celebrating the zoo’s three fantastic full-time vet techs! The vet techs assist the zoo’s three veterinarians in every aspect of animal health care:
- Prepping equipment and supplies for procedures.
- Monitoring vitals on anesthetized animals.
- Collecting and evaluating diagnostic samples, such as blood.
- Working with keepers to help animals participate in their health care (including voluntary blood draws, blood pressure measurements, laser therapy, and X-rays).
- Filling medications for all the animals and administering treatments.
- Dental cleanings and comprehensive dental care.
- Ordering and maintaining inventory of hospital supplies and medications.
- Numerous medical procedures including intravenous catheters, blood collection, and x-rays.
- Endless administrative support.
“Our veterinary technicians, Julie, Sara, and Bianca, perform a vast array of duties, and the veterinary hospital could not function without them,” said Head Veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf. “We are so grateful for what each of them brings to the job and consider ourselves very lucky to have them as team members.”
They each have unique skill sets and personalities that complement each other well. Meet each of them below.
Bianca joined Point Defiance Zoo in January 2023. Before coming to Tacoma, Bianca held a full-time position at Oregon Zoo. She’s been a veterinary technician for eight years. Before working in zoo medicine, she worked at a small animal general practice and in emergency and critical care medicine at a veterinary teaching hospital.
Bianca is originally from Texas but has lived in the Pacific Northwest for seven years. When she’s not working, she enjoys hiking with her two dogs and husband, reading, baking, crafting, kayaking, and napping. After all, helping care for the zoo’s more than 12,000 animals takes a lot of energy!
“Bianca is a wonderful addition to our team,” said Dr. Wolf. “She brings valuable skills from her work in emergency medicine and is very enthusiastic about her career in zoo medicine and love of nature.”
Julie has been at Point Defiance Zoo for an impressive 22 years! Previously, she worked at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. She loves all the zoo’s animals, but her favorites are Scooter the armadillo and Pilai the hornbill. Julie says Pilai will even regurgitate her grapes for her as a sign of affection.
Julie says she loves her job because medicine and science constantly progress, so she’s always learning.
Julie enjoys spending time with her three dogs and three horses when she’s not working.
“Julie can juggle a lot of different tasks simultaneously, which is helpful when you work in a zoo with so many different patients and have such a wide variety of job duties,” said Dr. Karen. “Her institutional knowledge from her many years at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is invaluable.”
Sara has been a licensed veterinary technician for 17 years and began working full-time at Point Defiance Zoo in 2019. Before working full-time, she’d spent several years working part-time at Point Defiance Zoo and its sister zoo, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. Before working in the zoo, Sara worked with exotic pets, volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center, and taught in a veterinary assistant/technician program for 5 years and at Smithsonian National Zoo.
Sara loves working with so many different species and constantly learning about them.
In her off time, Sara loves to spend time with her husband and energetic dog, who share her enjoyment for hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and rock climbing.
“Sara is a talented technician who values a cohesive team and genuinely cares about her coworkers in addition to all of the furred, feathered, and scaled patients she takes care of every day,” said Dr. Karen.
From the entire staff at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, THANK YOU, Bianca, Julie, and Sara, for all that you do to keep the animals safe and healthy.