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Published: June 15, 2023

Biology Major Works up Close With Animals at ZooTampa

Organismal and evolutionary biology major Gabriella Nunez ‘23 has always had a fascination with all animals and wanted the ability to work with them hands-on.

Biology Major Works up Close With Animals at Zoo TampaGabriella Nunez ’23 is a hospital intern at ZooTampa this summer. Photo courtesy of Gabriella Nunez

Her dream is being fulfilled this summer, as she’s working as a hospital intern at ZooTampa.

“ZooTampa’s collection and diversity of animals caught my attention, as well as the various opportunities for internships offered at various times,” Nunez said.

“Their missions and values line up with what I believe in personally and with what I hope to achieve in my future career endeavors.”

As a hospital intern, she typically begins her day by caring for the animals that are in the care of the hospital, which currently includes a skunk named Lance and a sloth named Lorenzo, by feeding them, cleaning their enclosures and making sure they are doing well.

She accompanies the doctors and veterinary technicians on their appointments, which can include treating tigers, manatees, elephants, birds and various other species that live at the zoo. 

Every day has provided different experiences for Nunez. Through accompanying and observing different appointments, it has allowed her to learn the inner workings of a zoological hospital.

“The most rewarding part of the internship is cultivating new relationships and absorbing all of the information they are giving me to succeed in the future,” Nunez said, “While also appreciating the opportunity to be face-to-face with animals that people typically never have the chance to see.”

After graduation, Nunez hopes to find a job working with animals, like a veterinary clinic, and wants to pursue certification as a veterinary technician.

This semester, she looks forward to being a lab mentor for all sections of the ecology course being taught by Ron Rozar, assistant teaching professor of biology. She will be assisting in the field activities as well as the in-class activities.

Her advice to other students who might want to follow her path is not to take any experiences for granted.

“The obstacles faces are meant to help you learn and grow,” she said, “And the once-in-a-lifetime experience you may have are things that you should cherish.”


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