Student Stories: Veterinary major journeys to South Africa for experience

Hannah Lane
August 08, 2014

Morgan Brown took a risk last August when she decided to be one of the first students to travel to South Africa through a newly developed immersion program.

As a junior veterinary and biomedical sciences major, Brown knew she needed hands-on experience with exotic animals, so when she read about the new program in the Penn State Pre-Vet Club newsletter, she took a leap of faith.

The program turned out to be a great learning experience, according to the Woodbridge, Va., native. Local veterinarians and zoologists gave informative lectures, and throughout the two weeks, Brown traveled to South African zoos, worked with dogs and sheep in local villages, and assisted with game captures.

"I needed to get more experience working with bigger animals and exotic animals, and this program exposed me to many things that I wouldn't have been exposed to had I just worked in the United States," she said.

The game captures, in particular, provided the opportunity for significant hands-on work, but not without risks. As soon as Brown and the other students arrived, the leaders of the capture warned them that for the game captures to be executed properly, many things had to be in place. The veterinarian had to be there, the buyer had to be present and the weather had to be decent.

When the captures went as planned, the students assisted the state veterinarian with darting and transporting the game, such as impala and waterbuck.

"We also worked with Brahman cattle on a game reserve," said Brown. "Apparently, they are the craziest type of cattle because they will jump all over everything."

After her experiences in South Africa, Brown is certain she wants to work with wildlife in the future. In fact, with her minor in film studies, she hopes someday to work on film sets with exotic animals to make sure they are safe.

Click here, to learn more about the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences major.


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Last Updated August 08, 2014