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Zoo Boise: Always an Adventure for Broadview University

Published on May 8, 2014 by Tiffany Coleman

(BOISE) A trip to Zoo Boise is always an adventure for students who take biology at Broadview University. Each quarter, instructor Gary Heller uses the living science facility to help expand classroom learning. Each time students visit, they get to roam the park to look at the zoo’s wide variety of animals. But every visit starts by spending quality time with the zoo’s veterinarian Dr. Holly Peters.

Always animated. Zoo Boise’s veterinarian Dr. Holly Peters uses a lot of show-and-tell to explain her job to students.

During their most recent field trip, students—the majority who are from the veterinary technology program at the Boise campus—are visiting on a very somber day. Less than 24 hours before their arrival, a decision was made to euthanize the zoo’s long-time resident Amur leopard. Nadia, who was just shy of 19 years old, had been fighting renal disease over the past few years.

“Unfortunately, I had to make the decision to put her down,” Dr. Peters said. “When it’s a sad day, everyone knows.”

Dr. Peters used the event as an opportunity to educate students. She explained that Nadia’s loss puts the number of remaining Amur leopards on Earth at 99. There are now 35 in the wild and 64 in captivity.

“I am now one of the few people in the world to know what it’s like to put down an endangered animal,” she said. “It is definitely not a very good feeling.”

To reflect the ever-changing nature of Dr. Peters’ busy role at the zoo, talk of sadness quickly turns into a rundown of what she typically accomplishes in one day. It is 10 o’clock in the morning. She has already prepped a snow leopard cub for his big move to Minot, North Dakota, and two servals have been shipped. One went to New Zealand; the other to Louisiana. She jokes that the Louisiana-bound cat has no idea what he is getting into.

Peters then did an animated show-and-tell using the zoo’s new, state-of-the-art X-ray equipment. When the zoo received the equipment last year, Broadview University also received a gift in the process. The zoo donated its X-ray plates, film and chemicals to the school’s vet tech program for students to use.

Dr. Peters gives students an up-close look at the equipment she uses to tranquilize animals for routine care.

Talk of how she discovered a baby monkey’s broken arm quickly turned into yet another show-and-tell. This time, she showed students the equipment she uses to tranquilize animals for routine care. She says it’s always best to work on them while they’re out.

At the end of the day, life at the zoo is always an adventure—not only for the students who visit, but for Dr. Peters as well. The zoo recently hired someone to help her out; a part-time veterinary technician who also performs zookeeper duties. Her advice to others who want to work in a zoo; “practice your blood draws, monitor anesthesia and be willing to take small opportunities,” she says.

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