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A veterinarian’s primary role is to provide medical care to any and all of the animals at the zoo. But there is a lot wrapped into that one statement. A zoo veterinarian has to learn about the specific medical needs of every taxa and hundreds of species of animals. Think about your human doctor and how knowledgeable they are about the human body and systems. Zoo vets have to be that for primates, elephants, snakes, fish, lions, birds, bats, insects, octopus and the list goes on. In addition to being responsible for preventing and treating disease, providing medical support for planned examinations (quarantine exams, preshipment exams, and preventative health exams) and providing guidance to other zoo staff regarding zoonotic diseases – zoo veterinarians are like detectives for the inevitable emergencies that will occur with the animal collection. Vets have to try to figure out the cause of the issue and how to treat it. No matter if animal care staff call and say “One of the dolphins isn’t eating” / “A polar bear is limping” / “The lions just got into a fight and have some wounds” – the request is the same “…can you fix it?”

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