Celebrating National Vet Tech Week
At Six Flags Great Adventure we love animals in all shapes and sizes. In honor of next week's National Vet Tech Week, we talked to Mark Harris, vet tech at Safari Off Road Adventure and one of the many dedicated personnel caring for our 1,200 animals year round. Find out a little more about Mark, his background and his favorite parts of working at Six Flags!
What made you want to start working with animals?
I knew I wanted to do something with animals from an early age. I was a very big fan of Steve Irwin growing up, so working with exotic animals and zoo medicine was always a big dream of mine.
How long have you been at Six Flags?
I've been with Six Flags for just over 3 years.
What’s your favorite animal?
My favorite species is the cheetah, but my favorite animal that we have is Nadya our Siberian tiger cub.
What’s different about being a vet tech at the safari opposed to at a normal vet office?
The biggest difference is the variety of animals. In a vet office you will see the typical cat and dog, maybe a bird or reptile here and there. In a safari position you'll see giraffes, lions, bears, zebra, ostrich and tigers all before lunch.
What’s the most challenging animal to work with/on?
Every animal brings its own challenges when it comes to veterinary medicine. It really depends on the situation and what we need to do along with the animal’s temperament.
Have you worked as a vet tech anywhere other than Six Flags?
Before working at Six Flags, I spent two years as a vet tech and nursing coordinator for a veterinary specialty surgical center outside of Washington D.C.
What type of schooling is required to be a vet tech, and where did you go to school?
For someone looking to go to school to be a vet tech there are two options. A veterinary technician is someone who has received their two-year associate’s degree in veterinary technology. A veterinary technologist is someone who has gone to school for four years and received his or her bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. I went to school at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York, specifically for the four-year degree. My classes focused on every aspect of veterinary medicine: anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, toxicology, surgical nursing, anesthesia, animal behavior, and veterinary office management.
Do you have any advice for aspiring vet techs?
Get as much exposure to the field as you can while in school or before going to school. Volunteer for a shelter or rescue organization or get a job at an animal hospital. The more experience you can get in all aspects of veterinary technology the better.