Pre-vet major finds happiness when switching to general animal sciences

Previous pre-vet major embarks on a new path in zoology alongside her creature friends at the Toledo Zoo

By Kate Dhuy and Maggie English

It’s not often you see a skink on a leash, but for junior Kayla Kennedy, it’s the norm. Kennedy originally came to Findlay for the pre-vet program, but her focus has since shifted to wildlife education and rehabilitation after starting her job at the Toledo Zoo.

“My original plan was vet school and this was the best school to pick for that path,” Kennedy said. “But even though I’m not [pre-vet] anymore, it’s still really good. I have a lot of friends here and a lot of opportunities.”

Thanks to the versatility of UF’s animal science program, Kennedy can pursue her passion without needing to transfer to another school.

Before starting her position at the Toledo Zoo, Kennedy worked for the Toledo Humane Society. There, she realized she’d rather be doing something out in the field than being in the lab. This pushed Kennedy to switch from pre-vet to general animal sciences.

Part of her job at the Zoo involves working with children and animals hand-in-hand.

“I’m a snooze guide,” Kennedy said. “I go with a group of boy scouts, girl scouts and school-aged kids. We do an overnight sleep at the zoo program, talking about wildlife conservation. There are multiple animal demonstrations involved.”

Some of the animals Kennedy does demonstrations with include monitor-type lizards, leopard geckos and some types of snakes.

When asked who her favorite animal was to work with, Kennedy answered Sal, a giant blue tongued skink.

“When we bring him out for demos, he gets like a little body harness like a dog,” Kennedy said. “It’s really fun.”