Laura Hill

Laura Hill

How long have you been working at Georgia Aquarium?

I will have worked at Georgia Aquarium for three years in January 2022.

What inspired you to choose animal health as a career path?

I have had a love for animals since before I was walking. My mother was a nurse, and healthcare was not an uncommon subject around the house. I used to give my teddy bears shots and even wrap their arms with bandages. I truly believe this field chose me.

What are your career goals?

Science and medicine are constantly changing, with new studies and information being uncovered every day. I would love to continue learning about all the unique and diverse animals at the Aquarium while keeping up with the best advances in medicine to help them thrive.

If someone is interested in becoming a vet tech, what steps should they take and what advice can you give?

I suggest starting small to see if animal medicine is the right career path for you. When I started as a kennel tech at 16-years-old, I was told this job isn’t just about playing with puppies and kittens all day. While people often see the cool and interactive parts of this job, there is a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes. I highly recommend working at a general practice veterinary clinic or volunteering at a zoo or aquarium if that’s the area of your interest. Get your toes wet before diving in.

What is your daily job routine like?

Routine? What routine?

I think one of the most exciting parts of this job is that we don’t typically have a routine. We are constantly adjusting to meet the needs of our patients. In a single day we could run bloodwork; do an exam; and treat a penguin, a shark, a turtle, a stingray, and a dolphin – sometimes treating multiple animals at the same time. We do schedule routine/annual exams and bloodwork for our animals.

What is your favorite part about your job?

Seeing healthy and happy animals. It’s always nice seeing a previously ill animal fully heal and return to its daily routine knowing I had a part in its recovery.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned or seen as a vet tech at the Aquarium?

I had no idea that sharks and stingrays can be trained.

It blows my mind to watch our aquarists target train animals in our large Ocean Voyager exhibit. Seeing how those animals know to come to specific targets is incredible and allows us to get a better visual during exams. These training techniques have become a crucial element in our animal care. We have a penguin who is learning to stand in place to get her x-rays taken, while our otters know how to hold out their arms for blood pressure measurements. Just to name a few of the many amazing things our teams do working with animals to remove any stress during veterinary exams.

What is your favorite animal at the Aquarium?

We have some many incredible animals I can’t pick just one! When I first started, I would have said sea otters, but now I love the seals, spotted eagle rays, belugas, penguins, and tiger sharks.

 

Laurie Adler

Laurie Adler

How long have you been working at Georgia Aquarium?

I have officially been part of the Aquarium veterinary team for nearly three months. However, I have been collaborating with the animal health team on their manatee research initiative for about four years.

What inspired you to choose animal health as a career path?

I have had a passion for animals my entire life. I decided to concentrate on animal health because it is an intricate and multifaceted field that allows me to play a part in conservation, research, and welfare. The knowledge we have gained has only scratched the surface of what we know about these species. It is thrilling to be a part of a team challenging to increase our knowledge base every day.

What are your career goals?

I want to continue developing and enhancing my skills and knowledge and further advance the field of aquatic medicine.

If someone is interested in becoming a vet tech, what steps should they take and what advice can you give?

It is ideal to gain lots of experience in husbandry for a wide range of species. Invest time in internships and other opportunities in the field, even if it is not directly related to medicine. Additionally, ask questions and network with the professionals you meet. No one path is the “right” path; choose what interests and works for you.

What is your daily job routine like?

Our daily routine consists of assisting in clinical procedures, processing diagnostic samples, and working with the many aquarium teams to provide support for all aspects of animal health.

What is your favorite part about your job?

Getting the opportunity to work with and learn from a diverse group of animal species.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned or seen as a vet tech at the Aquarium?

The most interesting thing I have learned is that blood cells look different from species to species.

What is your favorite animal at the Aquarium?

Whale sharks! The fact that such colossal animals feed on minute organisms to survive, is fascinating and defies the norm.

 

Adrienne Dandy

Adrienne Dandy

How long have you been working at Georgia Aquarium?

I have been working at Georgia Aquarium for three years.

What inspired you to choose animal health as a career path?

My passion for animals is what inspired me to get into veterinary medicine. I want to help make a difference and improve animal health.

What are your career goals?

My career goals are to find new and innovative ways to improve the quality of our medical care. I would also like to become more involved with animal conservation efforts.

If someone is interested in becoming a vet tech, what steps should they take and what advice can you give?

For anyone interested in becoming a vet tech, I highly recommend shadowing or volunteering at a clinic. I also suggest visiting the schools that interest you the most before applying. I cannot stress enough the importance of gaining experience either volunteering or working with animals in some capacity before getting into this field.

What is your daily job routine like?

Our mornings typically consist of things like anesthetic procedures, penguin foot wraps, or animal transports. We then run lab work and notes from our morning procedures. In the afternoons we are usually filling prescriptions, cleaning, restocking, entering lab results, and setting up for the next day’s procedures.

What is your favorite part about your job?

Definitely working with the animals at Georgia Aquarium! Every day holds something new and different which is exciting for me. I am also lucky that I get to work with such amazing people.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned or seen as a vet tech at the Aquarium?

The most interesting thing I have seen as a vet tech at the Aquarium is an MRI on a sea lion.

What is your favorite animal at the Aquarium?

That is a difficult question… I have to say our beluga whales or otters, I love them both.

 

Gina Houlditch

Gina Houlditch

How long have you been working at Georgia Aquarium?

I first volunteered at the Aquarium after its opening in 2005. Over the years, I have worked for Georgia Aquarium several times and have now been employed for nearly two years.

What inspired you to choose animal health as a career path?

My path to animal health started with a career in human medicine.  I retired from flight nursing, and I now prefer animal health care.

What are your career goals?

My career goals are to learn as much as possible about the animals we care for here at Georgia Aquarium. There is constantly new information and discoveries being made on the numerous animal species here, which means there is always something new to learn.

If someone is interested in becoming a vet tech, what steps should they take and what advice can you give?

Anyone interested in animal care must have a love and passion for animals. There are many paths to a career in animal health care. Follow the path that best fits you and your goals – whether that be at a veterinary hospital, zoo or aquarium – find what you are most passionate about.

What is your daily job routine like?

A day in the life of a vet tech at the Aquarium is hardly routine. Our days may consist of caring for an ill animal, assisting with examinations, drawing and analyzing blood samples, and ordering supplies. Not all our daily tasks are as exciting as performing MRIs on our sea lions, but it is all an important part of the job.

What is your favorite part about your job?

Everything! I get to work with some amazing animals and there is something new to each and every day.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned or seen as a vet tech at the Aquarium?

I am always learning something new about animal care at the Aquarium, but one of the things I enjoy most is analyzing the blood samples and learning about the chemistry.

What is your favorite animal at the Aquarium?

Our southern sea otters! Bixby is my favorite.

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