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Summer Internships: Jenna Loh '24

August 2, 2022
Jenna Loh is holding a Western Screen Owl

Name: Jenna Loh
Class Year: 2024
Major: Biology and Spanish 
Hometown: Mountain View, CA

Internship Organization:  Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley
Job Title: Predatory Mammal Intern
Location: San José, CA

I spent nine weeks this summer as a predatory mammal intern at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. The Wildlife Center receives injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife from the area and provides them with the medical care and rehabilitation they need until they can be released. I’m planning to apply to veterinary school after I graduate from Bryn Mawr and my dream is to go into wildlife medicine, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get hands on experience with animals.

My internship started during the busy season, so the hospital was full of patients — lots of baby squirrels, birds, and opossums who all needed frequent feeding (some as often as every thirty minutes) and cleaning. While my internship was meant to focus on predatory mammals (skunks, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats and foxes), there weren’t very many of these animals at the Center, so I was able to work with the whole variety of local, native species that the Wildlife Center rehabilitates. A typical day began with checking my assigned enclosures and finding the volunteer or intern who I was partnering with. Then, we would administer morning medication (oral or topical), clean the enclosures and prepare diets specific to the species and stage of life.

This internship was very much a learning on-the-job experience which was at times overwhelming but also very exciting. For the first few weeks, I was paired with experienced volunteers who taught me so much. I learned how to feed baby crows with hemostats. I learned how to gently coax the beak of a mourning dove open and how to insert a syringe of medication or formula so that the bird wouldn’t aspirate. I learned how to clean and handle skunks without getting sprayed (most of the time). I learned how to safely handle raptors — get the feet under control first so they can’t talon you. I also had the opportunity to help analyze a skunk fecal sample for parasites and vaccinate a raccoon.

While many of the skills I learned are very specific to the species I worked with, which I may or may not use in the future, I also practiced skills that will be useful anytime I work with animals in the future. I learned how impactful stress is in an animal patient’s recovery and different strategies to manage it: by reducing human interaction handling properly and quickly, and using medication when needed. Proper handling and restraint are crucial when working with animals, especially wildlife, both for our safety and theirs. I also learned how to notice patterns in the animals’ behavior and how this can give clues as to what might be wrong.

Note about the photo: I’m not allowed to share photos of the animal patients, but here I am holding a Western Screech Owl.

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.