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The mission of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians is to optimize the health, welfare, and conservation of zoo animals and wildlife through education, scientific study, collaboration and advocacy.
Based in Yulee, Florida, AAZV is the professional association for individuals and institutions who apply the principles of comparative veterinary medicine to zoo and wildlife species. With over 1000 members, we work in clinical zoo medical practices, diagnostic laboratories, reproductive and pathological laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, and a wide range of governmental health and wildlife management agencies throughout the world.
Do AAZV members have specialized training?
Knowledge of zoo and wildlife medicine requires special effort, study, and experience, beyond the standard veterinary school training. Additionally, some members have attained advanced degrees in related fields (such as epidemiology, preventative veterinary medicine, pathology, reproductive medicine, and others), and may have obtained board certification in veterinary specialties. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has endorsed a specialty board in this field, which is called the American College of Zoological Medicine. Currently, there are over 80 ACZM diplomates, and most of them are AAZV members.
How does the AAZV contribute to animal and human health?
Through its 14 standing committees, its quarterly peer-reviewed Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, and the efforts of individual AAZV members, the AAZV acts as a source of expertise regarding diverse issues in zoo and wildlife medicine. For example, AAZV's Infectious Disease Committee disseminates timely information and guidelines on emerging and existing infectious diseases, zoonoses, and other significant infectious agents that compromise the health of captive and free-ranging wildlife and threaten human health.
Our Research Fund, the “Wildlife Animal Health Fund” funds critical research and studies that give zoo animals and wildlife a better quality of life. Each year, our research committee approves new studies. Some of the studies are metabolism problems in Island Foxes, chlamydia infections in Red Tailed Hawks, cancer in California sea lions, and a lethal parasite in elephant seals. In addition we have approved studies about: ranavirus in many species, parasites in orangutans, TB in elephants, and nutrition in rehabilitated green sea turtles. Even with being able to fund only eight new studies each year, we have to leave 40+ potential studies on the table because we can’t yet fund all of the qualified studies. It is our hope that one day we will be able to fund every qualified study grant application.
Does the AAZV work with other organizations?The AAZV works closely with many allied health organizations, to develop science-based recommendations through consensus. Such groups include the Animal Health Committee of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the U.S. Animal Health Association, The Association of Wildlife Veterinarians, the Association of Avian Veterinarians, the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, and many other organizations in zoo, wildlife, and human medical fields.
Leigh Clayton, Director of Animal Health at the National Aquarium, speaks about being an aquarium veterinarian. Listen to the PODCAST.