Emily Burns (Student)

Emily Burns, pictured wearing a "Save The Elephant" sure on the MSU campus.

Last summer, Mississippi State sophomore Emily Burns was taking care of some of the world’s largest animals while studying abroad at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. This summer, she’ll be taking care of much smaller creatures as an intern at the Memphis Zoo’s birdhouse and hatchery.

The animal and dairy sciences major’s love of animals led her to MSU. After she finishes her undergraduate degree, Burns plans to attend veterinary school.

“I’ve brought home about seven animals to my family so far, including a rabbit and a duck,” Burns, a native of West Memphis Arkansas, said. “My dad told me that the next time I bring an animal home, I have to have permission.”

Although most of Burns’ previous experience came from working with smaller animals, she was intrigued when she found Loop Abroad, which offers aspiring veterinary students the opportunity to work at Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park.

“The elephant rescue is right beside a trucking camp, so when you were there you knew you were doing something important and good for the elephants,” Burns said. “The lady that started it spoke to us, and she was very powerful to hear. We worked with their elephant veterinarians, so I did rounds with them, fed and bathed the elephants.”

Parts of Burns’ duties in Thailand included monitoring how much the elephants ate, which was as much as 500 bananas a day. After a week at the elephant rescue, she spent time working at a dog rescue that houses more than 500 canines and she assisted with animal care and surgeries.

Before transferring to Mississippi State in 2017, Burns volunteered at animal shelters in Arkansas. Between her experiences at MSU and internationally, Burns has gained exposure to large and small animal veterinary practice.

“With being an animal science major, I enjoy going to the horse barn and seeing the cows and sheep,” Burns said. “I do a lot of work with the local humane society. I like livestock, but I want to specialize in small animals.”

With her first year at MSU now complete, Burns said she is excited for her internship at the Memphis Zoo, a place she frequented growing up and still visits regularly. While in Memphis, she will feed and take care of birds in the hatchery, adding to her broad animal experiences before returning to Starkville in the fall.

“I like MSU a lot,” Burns said. “I like the community. I feel a lot more at home here, and it’s closer to home.”