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Vet Detective

About the Scientist

Tolani Francisco travels to Native American reservations in New Mexico to check on the health of bison and elk. She searches for signs of disease in fresh dung patties and blood samples she collects and tests in her lab. Tolani directs a U.S. Department of Agriculture agency that works with Native American tribes in the Southwest. Her mission is to stop the spread of animal diseases and help reestablish healthy stocks of bison and elk on tribal lands.

Carmen Cid

Biography of Tolani Francisco

Find out more about Tolani on the Vet Detective CD-ROM. The complete biography is 2 pages and includes a glossary.

How do you take a bison's temperature? Or check an elk's pulse? Ask Tolani Francisco. Tolani is an animal doctor, but she's not the kind you're likely to visit when your dog or cat is sick. Tolani is a wildlife veterinarian. Most of her patients are big animals such as bison and elk. Some of these animals weigh as much as a pickup truck. How does a doctor get a powerful bison to stand still for a check up? As you can imagine, being a wildlife vet is a BIG challenge.

Tolani meets that challenge head on. She looks into a bison's mouth and listens to an elk's heartbeat just like any doctor. The difference is that her patients don't come to her. She goes to them.

To visit her animal patients, Tolani drives her trusty jeep around the wrinkled hills of New Mexico and Arizona. The trunk of her jeep is full of medical tools and supplies. She carries a stethoscope to listen to an animal's heart, lungs, and stomach, needles to give medicine or take blood, blankets to cover the animal, soft cotton ropes to hold an animal still, and a twitch for the especially difficult ones. Tolani also has lots of thermometers to take an animal's body temperature. Her thermometers don't go into the mouth, they go under the tail, and so she has to have a clean one for each animal.

Tolani's main responsibility is to protect the health of bison and elk that live on animal reserves. She also visits farms and ranches to check on cattle and other livestock. Tolani loves her job, not only because she loves animals, but also because she enjoys being outdoors and traveling through the countryside. Every day is a big adventure.

(excerpted from the biography written by Sarah Disbrow. The entire biography is available on the Vet Detective CD-ROM.)

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9909496.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and
do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).