She has ridden horses across Ireland, studied baboons in Kenya, befriended elephants in Thailand, and followed sled dogs through Alaska. Her commitment to service and her passion for helping animals have impacted Cornell and places around the world. Now animal activist Gabby Wild, BS ’11, DVM ’15 will embark on a new adventure as a first-year veterinary student at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Fall 2011.
“When I was four I had an epiphany while watching The Lion King,” she recalled. “The magnificent diversity of animals, the prowess, the struggles, and the unification we all share with them hit me through this film. As I matured, these themes nurtured a passion that convinced me that I wanted to become a veterinarian.”
While completing an accelerated double major in biology and animal science, Wild volunteered at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center and the Raptor Program and became founder and president of Cornell’s chapter of Heifer International, a charity organization addressing world hunger and poverty. She spent time in Thailand training to be an elephant handler and working at the Elephant Hospital in Lampang. Traveling with a mobile veterinary clinic visiting elephants across Northern Thailand, she had the opportunity to handle and care for elephants and even performed minor surgeries.
There she befriended a baby elephant named Khun Chai. Though initially in poor health after being rescued from his kidnappers, he formed a close bond with Wild and began improving rapidly. Soon after Wild had to return to Cornell, Khun Chai’s health declined and he passed away.
“I was devastated by the news of his death and the knowledge that he would still be alive if he hadn’t been kidnapped,” said Wild. “That experience sealed my mission in my mind. I want to protect and save animals in the clinic and in the field through veterinary medicine and animal activism. I applied to Cornell’s veterinary college. On my way to Kenya I got a call from former dean Dr. Donald Smith. I had just set foot in Africa for the first time, there were giraffes in the distance, and he told me I’d been accepted. My dream began with Africa, and it took me there full circle.”
Wild is spending her last summer before embarking on the veterinary side of her mission riding horses across the Irish countryside to raise funds for the Equine Division of the Humane Society of the United States and organizing her next major activism activity slated for 2012.
We look forward to welcoming Gabby to our incoming class of 2015. You can read more about her past, present, and future adventures at her blog.