Bell County native Bradley Venable had a run in — literally — with a zebra and lived to tell about in “Vet Gazette”, an online publication funded by the American Veterinary Medical Association. It is operated and supported by veterinary students.
Not only did he live to tell about, he also won the “Experiences” section of the online magazine’s competition and was awarded $100.
Now a veterinary student at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, Venable signed up for the Parawild African Wildlife management course at Western Kentucky University.
“I knew I was in for a treat,” said Venable. “I was set for a month long stay at various locations throughout South Africa, which involved capturing and relocating wild game for conservation purposes. Just about 22 hours of flights put this small town Kentucky boy in a daze. I was exhausted but exhilarated to be working with leopards, kudu, elephants, giraffes, and impala among others including the infamous zebra.”
Venable said that throughout the trip students were given crash courses on darting, animal behavior, conservation biology, anesthesia and animal restraint. None of which, he said, would have prepared him for the head on with the zebra.
“It was our last day at the Phelwanna Game Lounge (set in the unspoilt bushveld of Africa) and it was absolutely perfect. …. That day, our mission was to capture three zebra and relocate them via horse trailer. We had successfully immobilized and loaded up the first two targets by means of an M99 cocktail and were administering the reversal to the third when it happened in a flash. One second I stood firmly on two feet; the next, I was flat on my back on the dry South African soil.” continued Venable in the article.
While looking at photos on his camera that he had taken that day, Venable said he heard others shouting. It seems the last remaining zebra was making a break for freedom and the young Pineville High School graduate was the only thing in its way.
“I looked up only to find stripes striking a heavy blow to my head. Briefly knocked unconscious, I came to, laying next to the truck my indefensible body was flung against. I had been ‘attacked’ by a male zebra for being the lonely object in the way of the freedom he desired. I laid still and uncomfortable for four hours before I arrived at the hospital to find myself lucky to have only sustained soft tissue damage,” he said in the article.
Now in his second year at Auburn, Venable graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2010 with a bachelor of science degree in biology and agriculture. A member of the class of 2014 at Auburn, his long range plan is to work at a small animal practice in the Nashville/Bowling Green area.
He is president of the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA), student ambassador of AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust programs and AVMA Professional Liability Insurance Trust, as well as student representative for VCA Hospital and Intensive Care Unit at Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine.
Venable is the son of Shannon Smith, Pineville, and Robin Venable, formerly of Middlesboro, now a resident of Lexington. He is the grandson of Louise Venable, Middlesboro, and Judy Smith of Pineville.