It’s a drizzly Tuesday in March in Sacramento, Calif., and about a dozen children from a local elementary school have their noses pressed against the viewing windows of the veterinary hospital at the city zoo to view a very rare species on the other side of the glass. Dr. Jenessa Tookey Gjeltema ’04 is doing an annual exam on a red panda, an endangered foxlike creature from the Himalayas named Takeo. But he’s not the really rare one.
Gjeltema is one of just 215 veterinarians in the world that the American College of Zoological Medicine has certified as an expert, which requires passing a grueling, two-day examination following years of study. As an assistant professor of zoological medicine at nearby University of California, Davis (the top veterinary school in the world), she does clinical work six months a year at the Sacramento Zoo, providing medical care for the 560 animals, from carnivores such as lions to amphibians like poison dart frogs.