Vet Tech Stars

It’s Veterinarian Technician Appreciation Week! Learn more about our awesome Vet Techs Danielle Painter and Leah Rooker, who provides the best care to our animals.

“Our technicians are the heart and soul of our department. Not only are they clinically skilled and knowledgeable, but they are wonderful humans that ensure the best care is being given to all of our animals. They literally do it all and we’d be lost without them.” -Dr. Lauren Novak, DVM

Danielle Painter

“I love being able to support the zoo’s conservation efforts and make a difference in the lives of all the animals that live here.” – Danielle Painter

Danielle has been a Veterinary Technician for 7 years. She has an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology and Virginia Zoo is her fourth AZA institution that she’s been lucky enough to be a part of. She spent 4 years interning and volunteering at Zoos and Aquariums before she accepted her first full-time position.

Patient Testimonies

“She’s the best trainer a lion could ask for” – Ansel, the lion

“She knows her…. poop. 10/10 would submit another sample” -Dara, the orangutan

“Danielle is fun, spirited, and will match your Beyonce energy any day! She has all that fresh tech school knowledge and is ready for anything! A patient teacher and has great advice whenever you are looking for it!” -Dr. Lauren Novak, DVM

Leah Rooker

“Anytime we do a veterinary procedure on an animal, we have fun! It’s a lot of work but it is also always an amazing experience. No day is exactly the same! One day I could be helping with a physical exam on a porcupine, and the next day a root canal on a lion. It definitely is not a boring job. I love being able to use all of my technical skills. Helping the keepers train their animals for medical behaviors, like allowing voluntary hand-injections and blood collection, is also a very fun and rewarding part of my job.” – Leah Rooker

Patient Testimonies

“Expert quill petter! She never shames me for accidentally sticking her and she hates those silly “protective” gloves as much as I do.” -Dimitri, the sweetest prehensile-tailed porcupine

“Knows how to give those deep eye massages to really relieve stress and help a lizard find his Zen.” -Gary, the red tegu

Leah Rooker, BS, has been a Licensed Veterinary Technician for 29 years. Those years were spent as a Large Animal Veterinary Technician at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Virginia Tech and 18 years as a Zoo Veterinary Technician at the Virginia Zoo. She has a Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology from Harcum College and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Virginia Tech.

“Leah is the real deal. So much zoo historical knowledge, it’ll make your head spin. She’s always prepared and always has your back. She may listen to NPR all day, but she makes up for it by being compassionate, supportive, and sharing all the wisdom that she has!” -Dr. Lauren Novak, DVM

Danielle and Leah, thank you for all that you do!