Toronto Zoo – Connor Bryant

This summer the Ontario Veterinary College CORE program provided me the incredible opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Health Centre and spend the morning with a zoo veterinarian. Ever since I was a very young child, I have had an interest in working with zoo animals and this passion has since been fostered into an interest in zoo animal medicine. This Toronto zoo experience through the OVC CORE program provided invaluable experience and insight into this profession and allowed me to hear some fascinating real-life stories.

Our morning started out with a very interesting lecture regarding the medical and general care for the multitude of animals that are kept at the zoo and what the role of the veterinarian is within the zoo staff. I had never realized the numerous roles that the veterinarian plays within the zoo including assisting in reproductive conservation efforts, general care and well-being, specialized surgery, as well as communicating with both the public and with other veterinarians in zoos across the globe. Following the lecture, our small group headed off into the new Wildlife Health Centre with one of the veterinarians, Dr. David McLellend; listening to some amazing veterinary stories and the work that they had done with everything from snakes and tortoises, to wombats and reindeer. The surgery and medical rooms were incredible and so well-organized, with so many modifications for treating the large number of different species that the veterinarians work with daily.

One of my favourite parts of the tour was hearing about how veterinarians across the globe manage to work as a veterinary community to discuss the best methods to treat their animals and learn from each others’ successes and past cases. As so much of veterinary medicine is focused on treating more common animals, the ingenuity and critical thinking skills that these veterinarians must employ daily are astounding. To then share all this information with others to increase the overall level of care for all their animals was amazing.

After our tour we were given the opportunity to explore the zoo with the other students on the CORE program trip, visiting as many of the animals as we could until it was time for us to leave. This zoo trip with the CORE was an incredible opportunity and is one of the highlights of my summer