K-State Exotic Animal Medicine Club: Members discuss benefits

June Wiley and Sara Alves, 3rd year veterinary medicine students, and Danielle Fuller, 2nd year veterinary medicine student, hold exotic animals that are apart of the Exotic Animals Club in Totter Hall on April 12, 2016. (Austin Fuller | The Collegian)

The K-State College of Veterinary Medicine’s Exotic Animal Medicine Club gives students the experience to work with and care for exotic animals through hands-on experience with various species of animals, according to the club’s Web page.

Sara Alves, president of the club and third-year student in veterinary medicine, said the club is on the graduate level because of the level of skills needed to be involved. Alves said this is one of the larger clubs that is run and operated with student support and funding in the veterinary school.

“You only get as much out of as you give,” Alves said.

She said the club is completely extracurricular and is there for students who are interested in it. Alves said there are many opportunities offered, such as the programs made by the Exotic Animal Medicine Club. These programs include the Teaching Herpetarium, which is where students learn about how to keep and care for reptiles and amphibians, and Exotic Rounds, in which students are shown how to treat exotic species and wet labs, according to the club’s website.

James Carpenter, one of the overseers of the club and professor of zoological medicine, said there are field trips for students, and students can sign up to be trained in the herpetarium. Two to three students are in charge of reptiles for a day and must take proper care of them, he said.

Carpenter said there are also monthly meetings where a speaker may make a presentation. The students in the club make a recommendation, and then he and David Eshar, another overseer of the club and assistant professor in clinical studies, consult over it. Eshar said these speakers may discuss topics such as infectious species, wildlife, zoo medicine and a broad range of other topics.

He said these speakers provide motivation and inspiration for students by helping students make more mature decisions as they go through the field of veterinary medicine.

Eshar said the club also tries to organize zoo trips where students can watch animals in the Sunset Zoo receive vaccines, physical checkups, emergency care and other procedures.

Eshar also said the club is growing because the field of exotic animals is growing. People are increasingly interested in unique species, and there is a larger market for information about these animals, which has led to the development of new positions becoming available in regards to exotic species, such as specialized breeders, he said

Since there are increasing numbers of exotic animal positions being created, more students have an interest in them, Eshar said. He said this interest makes each individual more marketable in the future than if they had only studied traditional animals.

Overall, Eshar said the club helps develop interest and knowledge. He said students take away a level of ambition and curiosity, which helps them keep an open mind.

“Veterinary students that come to the veterinary college have the intellectual curiosity to learn and experience work with nontraditional animals species,” Eshar said.