Meet a Lion who would have a Lion as a pet if she could.

“If I could have a pet tiger, I would have a pet tiger,” said junior pre-vet major Jessica Edwards.

Edwards may have said tiger rather than lion, but we can safely assume if she would be willing to make a tiger a pet that she would do the same with a lion. Edwards plays soccer here at Missouri Southern, and she is currently in her second season as a Lion.

Edwards grew up in Ontario, California. She grew up having a unique obsession with animals. Edwards was attracted towards helping animals in danger and taking care of animals that may be sick or injured.

She can remember a time from when she was young of saving a bird. Edwards recalls a bird, possibly a pigeon, being stuck in a trash can when she was younger.

“I grabbed my mom’s kitchen gloves, put them on, and went and saved the pigeon,” said Edwards. “I had to have been like seven or eight years old.”

Edwards even mentioned a time when she had almost twelve animals.

“I remember a time when she had multiple animals, probably like four dogs at once,” said Edwards’ father Terrence Edwards. “I still take care of one of those dogs today, almost every pet she had growing up was one she found and wanted to take care of. We didn’t buy very many pets.”

 She loved all animals growing up, wanted to have them as pets. She had two dogs, two turtles, two frogs, and two hamsters. That’s only eight pets there, the rest of her pets will be quite the surprise. They were all tiny, baby animals. These animals were sold for food for another pet, for cheap at a reptile store. If you are thinking baby mice, then you are exactly right. Jessica had her reason for getting a bunch of these little ‘pinkies’, as they were called in the reptile store she got them from.

“I used to buy them cause they were like 75 cents, and I used to hate the idea that they gave them to the snakes as food,” said Edwards.

She didn’t just buy them to keep them from being fed by the snakes, she actually tried her best to keep them alive and keep them as pets as well. She would feed them milk, and keep them under lights in attempt to keep them warm. She said they didn’t have a very long life span so she never had one for very long, but she still felt like she was helping them because they weren’t being fed to snakes, instead they got to live a few weeks longer.

“I was really trying to save their lives,” said Edwards.

Another memory Edwards mentioned of her childhood of loving animals, was of a bee. That’s right, a little bee. She could remember a time around kindergarten when she found a bee dead on the ground. She remembers being very upset, and having a funeral for the bee.

Edwards’ heart for animals hasn’t ended today. She is a pre-vet major and hopes to become some sort of a veterinarian one day.

“She said she wanted to be a vet when she was around 10 years old, and it’s crazy because I could see that, and now she’s doing exactly what she said as a young girl,” said Jessica’s father.

 Edwards has a dog that lives with her in Joplin today. She talked about how she always had a pet growing up. There was never a time that she didn’t have at least one pet, she may not have always had twelve, but she didn’t ever not have any. The only time in her life that she didn’t own a pet was when she was living on campus here at MSSU for one semester.

Her love for her dog is something she is proud of. Edwards says she does everything for her dog, and that people think she is a major dog mom. She decided to make her dog, Bubba, a member of the Parr Hill Park here in Joplin.

“I wanted him to have a social life, I wanted him to meet other dogs, and just see how much I could do for him,” said Edwards. “We go there every night at 7 p.m. Every night that I don’t have something going on, we are at the park.”

She loves Bubba to say the least. She mentioned that he had his own soccer ball to play with. Jessica said he was a soccer player himself and that he obviously got that from her. His birthday is coming up, and Jessica has a little something planned for his big day on Nov. 7th.

“I’m throwing him a birthday party. I’m going to have a cake and snacks, and there will be gift bags for all the dogs. We will probably have it at the park since he has friends there, and we are there every night anyways,” said Edwards.

“That doesn’t surprise me at all, she was doing those things as a kid,” said her father.

For someone who loves her dog so much she doesn’t foresee herself being a typical local vet. She understands she may have to start with a job like that. Edwards has much bigger dreams and aspirations than that.

“There are so many different routes you can go. I’ve been inspired by this guy on Instagram, his name is ‘therealtarzan’, he’s amazing. He’s an exotic animal expert,” said Edwards.

Edwards also said that she’s been looking into that field and that it interests her. She really enjoys the idea of travel and is interested in learning new areas, and new animals and finding out about new things. She says this job would include a lot of travel, and would give her that opportunity to learn about many new animals.

“First stop would have to be South America or Africa,” said Edwards about where she would like to go with that career.

Another thing that may have contributed to Edwards’ love for nature and animals is that she grew up in such a rich animal country. The area she grew up in was 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles, and was between the mountains and the beaches. She spoke about how often her father would take her up to the top of Mount Baldy. Hiking was the main thing she did during her childhood.

“My dad has taken me to Mount Baldy ever since I was 10, I know the trail by heart,” said Edwards. “It’s like my backyard, it’s just where I feel like I’m really me.”

“That surprises me she talked about that, I loved it. I always took the kids to hike, camp, and other things with me, because I thought it was a good way to keep them out of trouble,” said Terrence. “I would always let her bring her friends because I always thought family and friends were very important.”

With opportunities to experience nature so much as a child she was given the ability to build a love for nature and animals. She finds animals to be very special creatures. She thinks each and every animal has its own unique personality. She wants to work with animals because she wants to be able to see their full potential. She also made a decision this past year to become a vegetarian.

“That may have been the best decision of my life, maybe soon I’ll even become vegan,” said Edwards. “But I love cheese!”

Edwards is a soccer player daily, a student daily, but an animal lover by heart.

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