My internship at MARS was an amazing 2 month experience, I came in not knowing what to expect and came away with so much more than I could possibly have imagined. You learn so much in such a short time, you don’t realize how much learning you actually do. Entering the internship I was very green not having very much hands on experience working with animals and arriving at MARS there is no slow breaking in process you are thrust right into working with the animals.

Everyday there are new memories being created as everyday is different with different cases coming in with different species and different circumstances. Learning to be adaptable is a must when doing rehabilitation, you have to have a flexible schedule and be able to juggle the needs of a variety of animals. Prioritizing the cases is also something that you learn to do, you are able to figure out which animals need the more immediate care, who needs to be fed first, which animals need more attention. Along with this you become very adept at noticing behavioral changes in animals from one day to the next or from the morning to the afternoon.

The amount of different procedures that you learn to perform astounded me, Maj has such confidence in the interns to perform a wide variety of tasks, she never throws you into a situation where you feel uncomfortable and is always there to guide you the first couple of times you perform a certain task. Having an open attitude ready to try anything helped me enjoy my time much more, whenever Maj asked if I could handle something or if we would be ok doing a certain thing, always liked to answer with a “no problem, we can handle that”.

You couldn’t ask for a better boss than Maj, she is such a great person to work for/with. She goes out of her way to make you feel comfortable and is always checking in on us to make sure there are no problems with anything. One of the best things is that she felt comfortable to leave us to take care of the animals while she completed other admin work, this let us know that she had the confidence in us to take care of the rehabilitation side of things on our own and that always boosts your confidence in yourself and she was always only a radio call away if necessary.

It was an amazing experience working with so many different species of animals as I was able to work with over 40 different species, every new species was a new experience and there are always those species and those cases that stick out in your mind. There are just some species that you never forget working with the raptors, seal pups, fawns, and ducks. There are always those animals that are special to you, those that you end up having a special attachment to for some reason or another. The hardest part of the internship is learning to deal with the constant death that is a large part of the job. It always hits you the first time you do morning rounds and find a patient dead or the first time you have to euthanize a patient that is too injured to return to the wild. The weird thing is that after awhile you do get used to the death that occurs at the center and most times it is for the best of the patient as they would no longer be in any pain.

The most memorable case that I worked on at MARS was an osprey that was already at the center when I arrived for my term; she had been attacked by bald eagles and had been brought to the center with severe trauma to the neck area. We spent many weeks force feeding her sliced up herring, her wound failed to get better and we found a hole running from the inside of the esophagus to the exterior of the body, after surgery to repair this we began gavaging the osprey a fish mash concoction but she began to throw up the food. Then we proceeded to get her an inter-osseous drip to give her fluid unfortunately that didn’t work and at that time we determined that the best thing for the bird was to euthanize her. This was the most memorable case and one of the most upsetting as we had put so much effort into trying to help her get better. To have her not make it was very upsetting but it also taught us that it isn’t always possible for us to fix them.

My two months at MARS were two of the greatest months I’ve ever had you learn so much in such a short time, you have so many amazing experiences. I would definitely recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in getting hands on experience working with animals and anyone who wants to get into wildlife rehabilitation. I’ll never forget my time at MARS.

Shawn Sullivan Intern 2006