Disney’s female veterinarians leading the charge, pioneering new science advances

57 women in Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment health team

BAY LAKE, Fla. – When you work at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – no day is a normal day.

The theme park is home to more than 5,000 animals including giraffes, lions, elephants, flamingos, rhinos and a variety of bird species. Each of those animals have a variety of special care plans to help them thrive, and it’s the female veterinarians that work behind-the-scenes, that are outnumbering the men and making a difference.

During Women’s History Month, Disney spotlighted how these women are making a difference while also leading the charge when it comes to advances in zoological animal science. During an early morning visit to the park’s veterinary hospital, News 6 meteorologist Candace Campos and her daughter got a look at the incredible work these women are doing.

Female Veterinarians empowering others at Disney's Animal Kingdom (WKMG)

“I think the coolest thing is just that I get to work with so many different animals. In a single day, I might work on a shark, or an elephant, or a monkey, or a snake,” said Dr. Betsy, an 18-year veterinarian working at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “I think that over the course of my profession, we’ve seen more women entering into medicine, but it had historically been male dominated.”

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According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about two thirds of all veterinarians are women, while one third are men. Leaders said this trend is reflected on Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment health team which currently has 57 female and 14 male Cast Members, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians and hospital keepers.

“You see many more women in the profession and here at Disney, we have an exceptional group of women veterinarians,” Dr. Betsy pointed out. “I love working with my colleagues. We have just a fantastic crew of veterinarians, but our technicians, our hospital staff are just incredible.”

Female Veterinarians empowering others at Disney's Animal Kingdom (WKMG)

Dr. Betsy is just one of the female veterinarians that is solving unique challenges when it comes to animal care. Her most recent puzzle involved a hoof problem with Trooper, a Hartmann’s mountain zebra. Dr. Betsy and her team discovered the zebra had a rock lodged up into a part of his foot.

“We historically would anesthetize these animals to be able to get access to their feet to be able to trim their feet – just like a farrier would trim a horse’s foot. But now we’re really trying to get towards training them to voluntarily participate in their own health care,” Dr. Betsy described. “We’re giving them food rewards and they’re interacting with our staff so that then we can work to touch their feet, lift their feet, and then actually start trimming their hoof. And so, we’ve been able to do that with many of our animals, not just zebra, but also cows, eland and giraffe.”

Disney’s female veterinarians leading the charge, pioneering new science advances (WKMG)

Trooper has since recovered and is now living with his mother at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where guests are getting the chance to see him on the savannah.

Dr. Betsy’s animal success is just one of the several female veterinarian stories that have been featured in the Disney+ streaming series, the Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The series is now in its second season and it continues to inspire younger generations like Campos’ younger daughter.

“It’s so exciting to think that I could be having an impact on others because it doesn’t seem like that long ago to me that I was aspiring to do this, and watching other veterinarians do these amazing feats in depth into medicine,” Dr. Betsy said. “It makes me want to be better at what I’m doing to inspire others.”

Female Veterinarians empowering others at Disney's Animal Kingdom (WKMG)

Disney said while all of these incredibly smart, strong and soft-hearted cast members have earned the right to be called veterinary superheroes, none of them will admit it as an individual achievement. Providing the highest level of care, for the highest quality of animal well-being is a team effort.

Click here if you would like to learn more about some of the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and some of the special up-close experiences at the park.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.