Dr. Lydia Staggs, a 2004 alumna of the College of Veterinary Medicine, recently landed her dream job at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, joining the team of veterinarians caring for the animals at SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove in Orlando.
A 2004 graduate, she brings more than 14 years of veterinary experience to SeaWorld, having previously worked at Bayside Hospital for Animals, Gulf World in Panama City, and Dolphin Discovery.
Dr. Staggs says a visit to a zoological facility as a child is what inspired her to work with marine animals. “I grew up on my grandfather’s farm in the land-locked state of Kentucky. After an encounter with a dolphin at a marine park, I fell in love with marine mammals.”
“SeaWorld has rescued more than 31,000 animals and inspires millions of people around the world to take action to protect our planet,” Dr. Staggs said. “I am honored to be part of a team that’s making a difference each and every day – both in our parks and out in the community. It has always been a dream for me to be part of the SeaWorld family.”
What’s a typical day like for Dr. Staggs? “Each day is never the same. That’s why I love my job. I work with a variety of species – from birds and turtles to walruses and whales. It keeps life interesting and I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
One of her favorite memories so far at SeaWorld has been the opportunity to work with walrus calves, Ginger and Aku. “It has been so much fun watching them grow. Ginger was born here at SeaWorld Orlando, and Aku is a rescued walrus calf from Alaska. Watching the two calves learn from each other and engage with one another has been such an amazing experience.”
When she’s not at work, Dr. Staggs spends time with her husband, Justin (AU ‘04), a son, and two rescue pets. She has also written two novels: Shamar and Rea, and is working on her third in the series.
Dr. Staggs’ best advice for those who aspire to work with animals. “Keep chasing your dreams. It’s one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet. At SeaWorld, and at other animal rescue and rehabilitation organizations, together, we’re making a positive impact on species that are endangered. Giving animals a second chance at life means the world to me.”
Dr. Staggs, all the best and War Eagle!