Wildlife MedicineWildlife vets work in a variety of settings, including rehabilitation centers, national parks and protected areas. Many are trained in zoological medicine and are employed by zoos or conservation organizations with field programs. Others work for state and local governments. In addition to training in individual animal medicine, wildlife vets are also trained in population medicine and epidemiology, especially as it relates to the spread of infectious diseases.
In my case, my wildlife medicine experience began with learning how to care for injured wildlife as part of the raptor club in veterinary school at UC Davis, and continued with my first non-domestic medicine job out of veterinary school when I worked as consulting veterinarian at the Wildlife Waystation outside Los Angeles.
My next opportunity to practice wildlife medicine was during a residency in zoological medicine. My primary research project was to develop safe anesthetic protocols for translocated North American river otters. Over the course of two years, I worked with the state’s wildlife commission to anesthetize, examine and move hundreds of otters from eastern North Carolina where they were plentiful and problematic (they were eating farmed catfish) to western parts of the state where their habitats had been restored.
Most recently, I spent 2.5 years as a wildlife veterinarian working with mountain gorillas in central Africa with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. This was the most challenging job of my career. You can read my blog, Gorilla Doctors on Wildlife Direct as well as Adventures in Climate Change. I started the blog in October 2007 and continued writing it through June 2009:
Abstracts for articles can be found in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.