Wild Life

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Taï Strike is Veterinary Officer at ZSL’s Zoos. You may recognise her from our half term Vets at Home videos! She took a paws between patients to tell us why being a zoo vet is her dream job.

ZSL vet Taina Strike

I'm responsible for... 
The veterinary care of all the animals at London Zoo and some of our conservation projects. During lockdown, I’ve also been helping out at Whipsnade. Together with our amazing keepers, vets and nurses, I look after the health of all species, from ants to elephants.

My day starts...
Early in the morning, walking through a misty Regent’s Park listening to the gibbons, Jimmy and Yoda, singing to each other… it’s magic!

You'll find me...
Out and about in the Zoos – looking after various animals and catching up with their keepers – or at our vet hospital.

My typical day includes...
Just about anything! No two days are ever the same. I can be anaesthetising a lion one minute, then scanning a pregnant okapi the next, then treating a snake, checking on a tarantula losing its hair, then taking a blood sample from a penguin!

Vet Tai Strike carries out an ultrasound on okapi Oni

The best part of my job...
Is pregnancy scanning – that always brings a huge grin to my face. The moment you first see a tiny baby, hear the heartbeat of a sloth foetus, or watch a miniscule tamandua flick out its tiny tongue is just awesome.

My most memorable moment...
Was when we re-introduced the mountain chicken frog back to Montserrat, where it had disappeared about ten years ago. I love my job at the Zoo but I also adore the conservation work we’re a part of.

My favourite animal...
Starts at anteater and ends with zebra – with everything in between. Even the creepy crawlies. I am always in awe of them all, each animal is so beautifully adapted to its niche.

I knew I wanted to be a wildlife vet...
As a child growing up in South Africa. I had the privilege of being surrounded by the most spectacular wildlife and being told great tales by my grandad. I always knew I wanted to work with wildlife.

My advice for anyone who wants to become a wildlife vet...
Is go for it! It’s the best career. It’s not easy to get into but if it’s your dream then don’t be put off. Do as much volunteering in local wildlife parks, zoos and rehab centres as you can and get a good few years in domestic practice first. It’s really important you’re comfortable with the many techniques you need as a vet before having to think outside the box. You don’t want to be doing your first major operation on a lion or a rhino – get the everyday skills first!

My favourite place in the Zoo...
Has to be Land of the Lions. When our male Asiatic lion, Bhanu, starts roaring it reverberates right through you. The whole Zoo goes quiet and, if I close my eyes, it feels like I’m in the savannah.
 

Did you miss out on our Vets at Home videos? We brought our popular half term event, free of charge to you at home - transforming our Vets In Action into brand new virtual sessions on Facebook! 

  • Join Ben as he shows you how to carry out a check up on a cuddly toy tiger here
  • Join Danielle and our vet team as Rolo the rabbit has a check up here

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