GREENVILLE— A Clemson University Animal and Veterinary Science major “walked into the wild” this past summer, interning at the Greenville Zoo.

Kathryn Boyd, a senior from Columbia, S.C., completed the three-month internship with zoo veterinarian, Dr. Christy Belcher.

Boyd had a wide range of duties, including handling the exotic animals, participating in surgeries, and performing research on-site.

Intern Kathryn Boyd (L) works with AVS Alumni Dr. Christy Belcher, Greenville Zoo Veterinarian

Intern Kathryn Boyd (L) works with AVS Alumni Dr. Christy Belcher, Greenville Zoo Veterinarian
Image Credit: Clemson University

“Kathryn was our first pre-vet intern, and I had her do everything with me on a daily basis. From frogs to large animals like giraffes, she helped with exams and surgeries. It’s a pretty involved program,” said Belcher.

This internship helps fulfill a life-long dream for Boyd.  “I want to be an exotics veterinarian and, more specifically, work with zoo animals. It’s been an interest of mine since I was younger,” she said.

Boyd assisted in treating dangerous animals, including leopards. The most interesting part of the internship was having to sedate a leopard for it’s annual routine exam, transport it in a van to another location, perform the exam, and return it before the sedatives wore off.

In addition to the exams and surgeries, Boyd played a key role in the zoo’s Black Snake research project. The project was implemented to monitor the snakes’ behavior patterns during their most active months. Boyd participated in the capture of these snakes, and recorded her findings.

“We are in the early stages of doing a research project with the Black Snakes in the area,” said Belcher. “Kathryn was instrumental in the process of identifying snakes, micro-chipping them, and gathering data.”

“I would like to thank the AVS department and Jeryl Jones for connecting me with this opportunity, as well as the funding provided to send me on the internship. I would also like to thank Dr. Belcher and the Greenville Zoo staff for helping me to learn about these animals and this amazing career in veterinary medicine. Overall this was a life changing experience for me, and it was wonderful to work with Dr. Belcher,” said Boyd.

The Animal and Veterinary Sciences department has three concentrations: Animal Agribusiness, Equine Business, and Pre-Veterinary & Science. The program has approximately 428 undergraduate students enrolled, and places 5-7 students into internships each year. An additional 40-50 students find their own internships with large corporations, small private businesses, and research institutions.

“Kathryn was our first summer intern at the Greenville Zoo.  She was selected from a large pool of applicants for the position,” said Dr. Jeryl Jones, a professor in the AVS department.  “She represented Clemson so well that Dr. Belcher has asked us for another summer intern in the upcoming year.  That application process is ongoing and will close on April 10.”