Assistant Director of Veterinary Care
San Antonio Zoo
Year zoo career began:
Tamara is the Assistant Director of Veterinary Care at the San Antonio Zoo. In her current position, she provides veterinary care to the zoo’s collection of animals. As a zoo veterinarian, Tamara has the privilege of helping keepers maintain great health and welfare for all the animals at the zoological facility. Each day is rarely the same and involves not only managing the care of sick animals but examinations on healthy animals too. She is involved with veterinary management of transactions of avian species between zoos across the country and educating veterinary students about the zoo medicine field. Tamara is also interested in research and conservation medicine and hopes to have the opportunity to collaborate in field projects.
Tamara is of Korean descent and was adopted when she was 2.5 months old. She moved around a lot when she was younger due to her dad’s job and got to interact with people from a variety of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Tamara graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences. Unlike some people, Tamara did not consider being a veterinarian until her senior year at Penn State. She took a year off and worked as a rescue and rehabilitation intern for the Alaska Sealife Center and then worked as a veterinary technician assistant. Once Tamara began veterinary school at the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine, she became determined to be a veterinarian at a zoological institution. Tamara also earned a master’s degree from Ohio State University. She volunteered at the Brevard Zoo before doing a veterinary internship with the Indianapolis Zoo and residency with Ohio State University, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, and The Wilds. Tamara became a relief veterinarian at ZooTampa before moving to her current position.
Tamara knew that becoming a veterinarian at a zoological institution would be difficult, but she would not change her path because it has allowed her to meet so many supportive people. The career path is competitive but very rewarding. No matter what your background or education is, persistence and having a strong support system are both key to becoming a zoo vet.