Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
Year zoo career began:
Lauren Waite is a veterinarian at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, where she is completing a two-year specialty zoo medicine and surgery internship. A career as a zoo veterinarian provides Lauren with the unique experience of life-long learning, getting to work with a myriad of species, many of them endangered or threatened, opportunities to directly impact conservation efforts and play a role in the sustainability of our planet as well as the opportunity to educate future generations. Lauren’s specialty internship required her to be on zoo grounds for two years and thus has provided her with a strong foundation of day-to-day experiences such as anesthesia of a large variety of species for routine exams, daily rechecks of ongoing cases, long-term monitoring of chronic conditions, and evaluating quality of life. The daily caseload allowed for continued exposure to medicine, anesthesia and surgery of over 550 terrestrial and aquatic species. Throughout her internship, she gained practical experience with remote delivery systems, marine mammal, felid and great ape medicine, as well as created quarantine protocols and scheduled routine preventative health monitoring. In addition to her clinical case responsibilities, interdepartmental communication, preparing multiple publications, didactic rounds and overseeing veterinary externs were integral components of the internship. Some of the more specialized training included, assisting with black-tip shark dystocia, performing surgery to amputate a young monkey’s arm, and performing a nephrectomy in a mexican king-snake. Lauren will be moving to South Carolina in July 2021 where she has accepted a staff veterinarian position at the Riverbanks Zoo.
From the time her parents symbolically adopted a Giant Panda through WWF for her seventh birthday, Lauren knew she would grow up to be a veterinarian. Upon graduation from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a bachelors in Pre-veterinary and Animal Sciences, she gained admission to the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada. During her clinical year of veterinarian school, Lauren completed a zoo externship at the Roger Williams Park Zoo where she found her niche; this externship profoundly changed the trajectory of her veterinary career and cultivated a curiosity in her that she had not experienced in any other veterinary specialty. Lauren loved the diversity that zoo medicine had to offer and felt a drive to overcome the challenges that were a consequence of it.
For those that are thinking of pursuing a career in veterinary medicine or in the zoo field, Lauren believes that you should not let anyone deter you from your goals for any reason; whether that be the color of your skin, or your gender, or your grades. Everyone’s journey is different, and there is not just one way or a “right” way to achieve your goals. Lauren currently lives with her husband, James, their three-legged cat, Pickle, and their 9 year old lop rabbit, Auggie. In addition to her love for animals, Lauren would consider herself an ice cream connoisseur, beach enthusiast, and outdoor adventurer.