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Animal Health Education

Western University Veterinary Rotations

vettechdigitalequipment_tmIn an effort to help educate the next generation of veterinary scientists, the Los Angeles Zoo Gottlieb Animal Health and Conservation Center offers a two-week mandatory rotation for 3rd year veterinary students studying at Western University of Health Sciences. The purpose of this program is to give veterinary students exposure to zoo animal medicine, husbandry, and management. It is intended that, through this program, the student will: 1) become familiar with the responsibilities of a zoo veterinarian; 2) learn how to approach medical problems in non-domestic species; 3) become aware of key animal health issues associated with wildlife conservation; and 4) gain an understanding for how a modern zoo functions.

This course provides an introduction to veterinary practice in the field of zoo and wildlife medicine and surgery. Through participation in the daily activities of the veterinary staff at the L.A. Zoo, the students will acquire basic knowledge in a variety of clinical, surgical, and managerial skills.  Emphasis will be placed on management, transport, handling, restraint, capture, anesthesia, emergency and critical cases, necropsy techniques, and appropriate specimen collection in zoo animal species.  Students are expected to dedicate a portion of their time to student-centered learning activities.

Senior Veterinary Student Externship

General Description

The Los Angeles Zoo offers senior veterinary students and first year veterinary graduates a four-six week externship. The goal of the externship is to expose students to zoological medicine and also familiarize them with the various facets of zoo animal husbandry and management.The Los Angeles Zoo has a diverse collection of over 1,100 animals.

The extern will be working with up to five different veterinarians. Duties include, but are not limited to, assisting the veterinarian with procedures and necropsies, catching and restraining a variety of animals, and assisting veterinary technicians with treatments, cleaning, and feeding of hospitalized/quarantined animals. The extern may also have an opportunity to work in the commissary, with the behavioral enrichment staff, and with animal keepers.

The veterinarians at the Los Angeles Zoo rotate covering seven days a week, 10 hours each day. The extern is expected to participate in a minimum of 40 hours/week, in daily rounds, staff training sessions, and is also expected to complete and present a powerpoint presentation on an independent project of your choice (guidance and assistance will be given).


The applicant should possess basic medical and surgical skills. We do recommend scheduling this rotation after you have had basic medicine and surgery rotations. Qualified students should be in their last year of veterinary school or a first year graduate, and fluent in English. First consideration will be given to those students that demonstrate a prolonged interest in zoo animal medicine and intend to pursue zoo animal medicine as a career.

After acceptance into the program, proof of a negative TB test within the past year is required, as well as fingerprinting by the City of Los Angeles, and a photocopy of social security card and driver’s license.


Housing, transportation logistics, and funding are generally the responsibility of the student. It is possible that students may stay in a small studio apartment located on zoo grounds.  However, due to the restrictions associated with this housing, they are encouraged to find temporary housing throughout their externship.

A vehicle is strongly recommended since Los Angeles is a very expansive city with limited public transportation.

Application Procedure

Applications should be submitted as far in advance as possible. There is no overlapping of 4th year student externs and positions fill often a year in advance. Applicants should provide a resume, letter of intent, two letters of reference from veterinarians, and tentative proposed externship dates. A telephone interview will be scheduled after the application has been received.

Please click here to download the application

Thank you for your interest. Applications should be sent to:

Lisa Naples, Chief Veterinarian
Los Angeles Zoo – Gottlieb Health Center
5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 644-6018
[email protected]

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