Zoological Society of San Diego
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Organization/Company: Zoological Society of San Diego

Location: San Diego, CA

Website: institute.sandiegozoo.org

Pathology Environment: Zoological / Wildlife

Discipline/Field of Study:

Length of Externship: Junior / Senior Year Externship (3-6 week duration for students in 3rd or 4th year)

Time of Year:

Funding: No

Housing Provided: No


The Wildlife Disease Laboratories of San Diego Zoo Global offers student externship opportunities for self-motivated, energetic, 3rd and 4th year veterinary students.  The Department runs a high volume diagnostic service with a caseload of approximately 1800 necropsies, 360 surgical biopsies and 700 cytologies per year.  The Department operates on a full-time basis 6 days a week (Monday through Saturday) and provides emergency on-call service during hours which fall outside the regular work days.  The externship program offers an opportunity for students to gain exposure to the study of diseases of exotic animals utilizing material from 2 collections of exotic animals (San Diego Zoo and Safari Park) and referral material.  Externships are for a minimum time period of 3 weeks.

Externships are similar to 4th year rotations.  Students will spend the majority of their time performing post mortem examinations and developing gross descriptive skills.  There are also opportunities for study of histologic sections, examination of clinical laboratory specimens (including cytology), and research projects.  Students are expected to participate in Department activities during standard work hours, Monday through Saturday, and are encouraged to utilize facilities during extended hours when staff are present.  Students will participate in daily pathology rounds which focus on current case material.  Other meetings include weekly rounds where we discuss interesting and difficult cases with other pathologists from the area.  Monthly meetings between pathologists, clinical veterinarians and animal care staff cover collection health within the context of management.

The externships focus exclusively on pathology; there is no contact time with the clinical veterinary staff.  Unfortunately, we are unable to offer financial support or housing.  (Funding for longer periods of time, such as summer fellowships or ACVP scholarships, may occasionally be available.)

Prior to arriving at the zoo students should have:

  • completed a rotation in pathology (or similar experience) and be familiar with a standard necropsy protocol
  • respirator training and fit testing (e.g., use of N-95 mask) are suggested, but not required
  • vaccination against rabies and a negative tuberculin test within 1 year prior to arrival are recommended, but not required

To apply submit curriculum vitae; a letter stating why you wish to participate in this program, career goals and how this externship fits in with future plans and potential dates of participation; and names and addresses of 2 references (a letter from your references is not required) to:  Student Externship Coordinator, Wildlife Disease Laboratories, Zoological Society of San Diego, PO Box 120551, San Diego, CA   92112-0551 or pathology@sandiegozoo.org.

Student Externship Coordinator
Wildlife Disease Laboratories
San Diego Zoo Global
PO Box 120551
San Diego, CA   92112-0551


Updated: 7/30/2016

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