On a Monday morning at the Oklahoma City Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Clinic, Jennifer D’Agostino, senior director of veterinary services, is inspecting a grumpy feminine peafowl and drawing a blood sample.
In her part, D’Agostino conducts common health checks on anything from toads to birds to bears and to even the premier of the zoo’s elephants. She has taken blood from the tail of the zoo’s cobra, taught the elephants to raise up their significant stump-like ft for inspection and collected stool samples from even the most irritated of critters big and little.
D’Agostino has managed animal overall health for the zoo for extra than 19 yrs. Her enthusiasm for animal welfare, on the other hand, is not restricted to the wooded perimeter of the Oklahoma City Zoo. In addition to conservation get the job done to encourage native Oklahoma habitats and survival efforts for the endangered Texas horned lizard, she is also a passionate advocate in places like Kenya, wherever she operates in land administration that aids wildlife prosper, and with the Painted Pet dog Investigate Have confidence in in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Her images shares the elegance of the all-natural planet and all its creatures, and she is instrumental in encouraging other businesses with their conservation and animal welfare efforts.
“At the zoo, I’m the champion for our Conservation Action Now analysis grant program, wherever we request programs for compact conservation-based grants,” she states.
“I coordinate that application by amassing these apps and obtaining staff members users to get included to evaluation individuals purposes. We award small grants to these researchers who are doing this astounding conservation work.”
For her passionate devotion to animal welfare and conservation, D’Agostino was named one particular of two recipients of the 2022 Kirkpatrick Honor for Animal Wellbeing. Drew Edmondson, longtime Oklahoma legal professional common, also been given the award. The honor is a portion of Kirkpatrick Foundation’s mission to make Oklahoma a safe and humane condition for all animals by means of its Risk-free & Humane initiative.
‘Purpose in life’ to assistance animals
D’Agostino attained her doctorate from Michigan Point out College and joined the Oklahoma Town Zoo in 2003 for her residency in zoological drugs and submit-graduate schooling. Soon after her residency, she worked in an associate veterinarian place at the zoo.
A indigenous of Davison, Michigan, D’Agostino was born with a really like of wildlife. She understood from an early age that she wished to be a veterinarian, especially a zoo veterinarian.
“I made a decision I desired to be a zoo vet when I was about 7 decades outdated,” D’Agostino states. “I’ve often liked animals.”
“I grew up with my grandma in Flint, Michigan, and as aspect of the Flint City University District — she ran a performing farm, so it had cows, horses, pigs, sheep and agriculture. I invested a great deal of my childhood out at that farm, and I would just abide by the vet about. I understood that my aim in lifestyle, and my function in life was to enable animals.”
Noting her interest in how veterinarians cared for the animals — specially the large draft horses — on the farm, D’Agostino’s mother purchased a membership to the “Zoobooks” magazine, which only fed her passion for animal care and veterinary drugs.
After becoming a member of the Oklahoma Metropolis Zoo in 2003 for her residency, the Michigan indigenous claimed the corporation and the condition felt like home. She bonded with her co-personnel and other people of the state, but the zoo’s courses have been a major motivating element in her ongoing mission of caring for animals.
D’Agostino was instrumental in the money marketing campaign to create the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Medical center facility, which gained a kickoff gift of $1 million from the Kirkpatrick Foundation and Kirkpatrick Family Fund. Opened in 2015, the $9.2 million hospital is 1 of only a handful of accredited zoos across the region that supplies the general public the chance to notice techniques ranging from preventative wellbeing examinations to surgical procedures. Through that new clinic, D’Agostino continues to teach the public, and her have group, on the worth of animal welfare.
“If you believe about what a veterinarian does right here at the zoo and the breadth of know-how that is truly unparalleled, Jennifer has to offer with everything from a frog to a giraffe and do it nicely,” says Dwight Lawson, executive director and CEO of the Oklahoma City Zoo. “Jennifer is board accredited in zoo and exotic drugs, which is a little bit of a rarity, but she has also developed a fantastic group all-around her to support do that. She is passionate about educating and passing on that know-how.”
D’Agostino has a enthusiasm for conservation and animal advocacy. She is a supporter and aspect of the Painted Pet Study Trust in Africa, the zoo’s Horned Lizard software and the Northern Rangelands Have confidence in in Kenya. Her abilities in animal welfare is only complemented by her photography competencies, which she shares with companies.
D’Agostino has visited Africa several times and worked carefully with the Painted Pet Investigation Rely on, a person of the organizations she programs to guidance with the no-strings-hooked up monetary award Kirkpatrick Honor for Animal Wellbeing.
“Jen utilized and was accepted by the zoo to arrive right here and stand for Oklahoma Metropolis. When she was listed here, we had a incredibly tough scenario going on with a pack the place the alpha woman had just specified birth to five pups,” suggests Dr. Greg Rassmussen, executive director of the Painted Puppy Investigation Trust in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Mainly because so quite a few of the pack had been killed by motorized autos, the mom and the pups were starving. The belief was able to get authorization from the nationwide parks company to feed the having difficulties pack carcasses of wild animals to assistance help save the populace.
“We had to get carcasses for the reason that clearly you cannot begin giving them kibble. They are wild animals,” claimed Rasmussen. “These carcasses weighed about sixty or seventy lbs ., and the den was a good mile or much more away. Jen was the initial to enable carry a carcass. She was there and just belonged from the working day she arrived at the project. Some individuals are like that—the 2nd they get there, it’s like they’ve been here all their lifestyle.”
That involvement has led to a deep partnership among D’Agostino, the Oklahoma Metropolis Zoo and the Painted Canine Study Have confidence in.
“The way she runs her veterinary division is exemplary. It genuinely is so particular to see the way her group operates,” states Rasmussen.
D’Agostino is also passionate about sharing conservation and wildlife by way of character images, and she is lively in the zoo’s world-wide and nearby conservation attempts. She has developed her own property and land to be as purely natural as doable, cultivating native crops and trying to keep the wild sites wild on her assets.
“My interest is pictures, and of study course, wildlife and nature is my favourite detail to photograph. For persons to be equipped to get people incredible pics of wildlife, there has to be appropriate habitat. By developing that, even in your possess backyard, you can interact with community wildlife and know that you happen to be executing fantastic issues for them and giving what they require to keep on on,” D’Agostino claims.
As for her $25,000 award, she programs to spend in new digital camera tools and then donate the remaining to two conservation corporations.
“I’m heading to give some of the income to the Gorilla Medical practitioners, which is a phenomenal organization in Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. They go out into the forest each and every solitary working day and choose treatment of mountain gorillas, and individuals animals are alive now and not extinct because of the endeavours of people rangers and people veterinarians,” she says.
“The rest I will give to the Painted Pet Analysis Believe in, since they are performing these superb get the job done, and I want to be able to enable them progress what they’re doing to assistance painted dogs.”
The Kirkpatrick Basis carries on to assist D’Agostino’s perform at the Oklahoma City Zoo, continuing a lengthy tradition with the corporation. John Kirkpatrick was a founding member of the Oklahoma Zoological Society, which is its nonprofit assistance group.
“Kirkpatrick Basis has been just a great supporter of the get the job done that we have performed here, significantly with the veterinary application and its target on animal treatment,” states Lawson. “The foundation built a ton of the infrastructure that has supported our veterinary system and our individuals like Jennifer, to actually give them the resources desired to choose this sort of excellent care of the animals right here.”