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CROW welcomes wildlife, conservation medicine interns

By CROW - | Jul 30, 2021

CROW Drs. Charlotte Cournoyer and Laura Kellow

Drs. Charlotte Cournoyer and Laura Kellow recently joined the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife as wildlife and conservation medicine interns. Their year-long veterinary internships began on July 1.

Originally from Barrington, Rhode Island, Cournoyer received a Bachelor of Arts in biology at Skidmore College. She earned her doctorate at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, with a certificate in aquatic animal health.

Before coming to CROW, Cournoyer completed a small animal rotating internship at the Angell Medical Center in Boston working in the avian exotic department. She also helped with small animal emergency cases, which included a variety of exotic pets. During Cournoyer’s undergrad and veterinary school, she completed internships and externships at wildlife rehabilitation facilities such as The Marine Mammal Center, California Wildlife Center and Animal Rescue Clinic at the Mystic Aquarium, where Cournoyer gained experience working with different marine, mammal and avian species.

“I have always had an affinity for wildlife. As a child, I would play in the shallow tide pools in front of my home, fascinated by the creatures I found there — mostly crabs, hermit crabs, starfish, small fish, jelly fish,” she said. “Pollution, poaching, habitat encroachment, global warming — the challenges wildlife face are endless. One disruption in an ecosystem can disturb the entire balance. The most exciting thing when out in nature is an unexpected sighting of a wild animal. I want to make sure that our future includes that natural wonder.”

Kellow grew up in Sydney, Australia, before attending Colorado State University and graduating with honors in biomedical science. She earned her doctorate from Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Kellow spent the last year completing a veterinary science master’s degree in wildlife conservation with Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, where she graduated with honors.

“When I was a kid walking home from school, I found a dead brushtail possum on the sidewalk that had just fallen off an electric wire,” she said. “Having just learned about possum pouches in kindergarten, I begged my dad to look inside to make sure she didn’t have any babies. Luckily, my dad is a good sport and examined the pouch to find two brushtail possum joeys inside. To the horror of my mum, I wrapped the joeys up in my school jumper to keep them warm and we drove the joeys to a wildlife rehabilitator in our area. The rehabilitator was so kind and allowed us to watch her triage them and set them up with other joeys. I’ll never forget the joy I felt at stopping to help when everyone else was walking past and the ability to provide a voice for such fragile animals.”

During her undergraduate studies, Kellow volunteered at the Wildlife Rescue Center and served as an intern with the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri. In veterinary school, she completed an externship with the Saint Louis Zoo, Blank Park Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, a rotating internship at VCA Alameda East in Denver, and worked at the only wildlife center in Guatemala, ARCAS, with wildlife rescued from illegal smuggling operations.

The internship at CROW is centered around the “One World, One Health” concept and designed for those who have completed their Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and are interested in gaining experience treating wildlife. In addition to clinical duties, interns participate in research and conservation projects, give case and journal club rounds, and help teach students, staff and volunteers.

“This internship has already given me so much more confidence in the medical and surgical management of wildlife,” Cournoyer said. “I hope to continue to grow in this area so I can contribute meaningfully to environmental conservation through clinical and field veterinary work and research. I am most excited to grow in my research experience so that I can further advance the growing field of wildlife conservation medicine and the one health initiative.”

“At CROW thus far I have particularly enjoyed working with the gopher tortoises, they have such individual personalities and attitudes,” Kellow said. “CROW has a significant caseload and already my medicine and surgical skills in wildlife and exotic species has improved exponentially. I did an operation to remove a fish hook on my second day here, who knows what else is in store. My ultimate goal is to be able to practice clinical veterinary medicine in an AZA accredited zoological facility and be involved in both local and international conservation efforts of native fauna and flora.”

For more information about the program, visit www.CROWClinic.org/articles/student-programs.