Final-year Melbourne Veterinary School students visit Werribee Zoo

On a crisp Sunday morning in July, Melbourne Veterinary School staff members led a group of eager students on an outing to the Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Twenty-one students in their final year of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) were treated to a special safari bus tour by the Zoo’s resident Senior Veterinarian, Dr Natalie Rourke.

cute kitten
DVM4 students, with Dr Charles El-Hage and Dr Leonie Richards pictured at right. Photo: Charles El-Hage

Dr Rourke and her team provide expert veterinary care for their animal patients at the busy veterinary hospital at the Zoo. They treat more than 350 animals a year, delivering health exams, dental work, surgery, weigh-ins and unscheduled procedures.

While the outing proved to be a valuable opportunity to hear from the Zoo’s many expert veterinarians and keepers, it was also a welcome chance for the students to relax and unwind in the rural setting.

Veterinary student Matthew Tso has a close encounter with a camel. Photo: Matthew Tso

The excursion was led by members of the Student Experience team – Dr Charlie El-Hage and Dr Leonie Richards – senior veterinary academics based at the School’s Werribee campus.

Dr El-Hage, who has close links with Werribee Zoo, co-hosted the tour.

“The outing was a great chance for our students to see up-close how Zoo staff manage the complex care and conservation work required of their wide range of animals, including endangered species,” he said.

Feedback from students who attended on the day has been extremely positive, with a number of them sharing photos and highlights of the tour.

Professor Anna Meredith, the new Head of the Melbourne Veterinary School, praised the tour.

“This outing was a rare opportunity for our students to get an inside view of the many challenges posed in managing the care and treatment of wildlife – particularly larger animals – in a rural zoo environment,” Professor Meredith said.

“We continue to be grateful for the rewarding relationship the School enjoys with Melbourne Zoos.”

This excursion is one of a number of initiatives run by the Melbourne Veterinary School’s student experience team, designed to provide opportunities to support and engage students studying in the DVM.

Plans are already underway for a student-led excursion of DVM students to the Werribee Zoo during Semester 2 this year.

Professor Meredith said the Melbourne Veterinary School looks forward to further developing its partnership opportunities with Melbourne Zoos into the future.

Story by Aaron Hughes. Banner image: Matthew Tso, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student.