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Behind the Scenes with Associate Veterinarian Dr. Jordan Davis-Powell

Dr. Davis-Powell at work with her team. Photo by Jamie Pham

For Associate Veterinarian Dr. Jordan Davis-Powell, the path to working with animals started early. “When I was five years old, I saw a woman caring for tigers on TV, and I told my grandmother, ‘I want to take care of big cats.’ That has been my dream since I was five years old, and it has never changed.”

It’s a dream that has received a lot of support, first from Davis-Powell’s mom, whose “powerhouse drive and determination” makes her a life hero, and then from peers and faculty at Tuskegee University. Davis-Powell remembers her experience at the historically black college and university (HBCU) as, “a whole new world, rich in support, and a lot of fun.” As a student at the veterinary college that has educated over 70 percent of the nation’s African American vets, she sensed, “a different support system being there versus being at another place. It just felt right.”

After putting in the work at Tuskegee, it was on to L.A. The Denver native loves the city, noting, “There’s always something to do, a new restaurant, even skiing!” Once she settled in So Cal, Dr. Davis-Powell obtained an internship she describes as “definitely diverse” and then started at a private practice under a female, African American veterinarian at a black-owned clinic. “So I had that support,” she says again. It inspired her.

Thinking of her success handling the wide range of veterinary situations that arise at the L.A. Zoo, Dr. Davis-Powell can’t help but credit her team. “With so many moving parts, a variety of staff may be needed on any given day. Every person cares, every person’s job is important. You never feel alone. L.A. Zoo is very supportive. And of course having Denise M. Verret as your zoo director is like, amazing.” [Verret is the first female African American director of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited zoo.] “Definitely a person to look up to.” As is Davis-Powell herself.

What about that dream of working with big cats? Davis-Powell laughs. “If there’s a feline procedure, I’m always wanting to be there. I’m always sneaking in like, ‘Oh I want to see!’ Big cats are still a favorite.”