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Priya Bapodra-Villaverde

Ethnicity:

Indian (British-Indian)

Current position: 

Senior Veterinarian

Current facility:

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Year zoo career began:

2012

Priya is a senior veterinarian at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and helps to provide medical care to the 10,000 animals that are housed there. In addition to her love of clinical medicine, she strives to create opportunities for collaboration between zoological colleagues and AZA facilities, in order to improve the health and welfare of animals not only at the Columbus Zoo, but nationally. Along with Dr. Liza Dadone at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, they created the first National Giraffe Plasma Bank and provide plasma to giraffe calves that require it post birth for immune support. Priya also enjoys contributing to research, both clinical and in the field, and been fortunate to assist with giraffe translocations in Uganda.

Priya was born in the UK, to very supportive parents who recognized her love of animals and encouraged her to follow her dream of becoming a veterinarian, and a zoo veterinarian at that. Despite this support, she faced many challenges at school level because of teachers who did not think that she ‘fit the picture’ of a veterinarian. She went on to graduate with Honors from the Royal Veterinary College in 2006, and obtained a Masters in Wild animals Health from the Royal Veterinary College/ Zoological Society of London in 2008. In 2009, she was given a very unique and life changing opportunity – Dr. Barb Wolfe chose her as a resident in Conservation Medicine at the Wilds (Cumberland Ohio). After completing her residency, she went on to become staff veterinarian and then senior staff veterinarian at the Columbus Zoo from 2012 onwards. She is humbled at being able to work with so many endangered species, talented and passionate animal care staff, and be able to inspire people to care about wildlife on a daily basis through various avenues.

Priya will be forever grateful to Dr. Wolfe for taking a chance on this ‘unknown’ veterinarian from the UK and dedicates her career to her. She wants to ensure that other minorities are given opportunities as she was, and are not overlooked because of lack of representation or because they don’t ‘fit the picture’, or because of reduced accessibility to appropriate resources or mentorship.