Teresa Norris - B.A. Biology - A Wildlife Dream

Teresa Norris graduated from Gallaudet with a degree in Biology in 2002.

A Wildlife Dream

by Roseanne Bangura
This article originally appeared in the fall 2001 issue of
The Gallaudet Link.

Ever since childhood, Teresa Norris's dream has been to work with wild and exotic animals. Growing up, she often took in injured animals like skunks, raccoons, snakes, and ferrets and nursed them back to health.

But, Teresa put aside her dream of working with animals when she married and raised five children. She never forgot her dream, however, and enrolled at Gallaudet with a major in biology. Living with her family in Delaware, Teresa commutes to Gallaudet everyday for classes - a two-hour drive one way.

Thanks to a deaf man in Kenya who had contacts with safaris and the Kenyan Wildlife Society (KWS), Teresa was able to get an internship with the prestigious KWS last summer.

The excitement began as soon as Teresa set foot in Kenya and met the team of five veterinarians, three interpreters, and the many rangers that she would work with for five weeks in the main park in Nairobi and at thirty other parks, reserves, and ranches all over Kenya. Teresa loved working in Nairobi, but the exciting part of the internship was traveling with the vets and rangers to remote locations to treat sick and injured animals.

Teresa was responsible for assisting the vets in determining the health and treatment of a variety of problems the animals faced. Some animals were old or had various ailments while others were injured from traps and snares of poachers or in fights with other animals. If the animal's injuries were minor, it was treated on site with antibiotics. But if the animal was more seriously injured or ill, the vets transported it back to Nairobi where it received more attention. Teresa worked with elephants, water buffalo, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, cheetahs, and lions.

One time Teresa and her team spent several days capturing 12 water buffalo to do research on rinderpest disease. The buffalo had to be tracked, chased from trucks and jeeps over the mountains and rough terrain of bushes and trees, tranquilized, and transported back to camp to have their blood samples taken and ears tagged. It took them all day to capture just one or two buffalo. Another time, 15 lions escaped from a national park and Teresa, along with the vets and rangers, camped out for two days to look for the lions.

One of Teresa's funniest adventures was when she and the vets helped a mother elephant caught in a poacher's snare. They tranquilized the mother elephant and were cleaning her wounds. While Teresa leaned over the mother elephant, she was rammed from behind by the baby elephant and sent sprawling. Teresa wasn't injured, but the team enjoyed a good laugh during an otherwise serious situation.

At Gallaudet, Teresa is a cum laude scholar and on the Dean's List regularly. In addition to her studies, Teresa, who is part Chippewa Indian, is involved with earth dances and vision quests with The Bear Tribe Medicine Society.

Teresa loved her internship and wants to work with exotic animals in a zoo. After graduation, she'll be a veterinary technician, but may continue on to veterinary school.

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