13 August 2004
Dear Zoo Director,
The American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) is promoting the zoo veterinarian’s role in conservation, and we are asking for your help. Most importantly, we ask that you support and encourage your veterinarian’s involvement in AZA programs. We recognize that this involvement requires a time commitment and comes at a cost including AZA membership, travel to SSP/TAG meetings, and attendance at regional and/or national AZA meetings. This travel is in addition to travel for veterinary meetings as continuing education is a requirement for state veterinary licensure; however, we believe that this is easily outweighed by the benefits to animal health and the overall conservation activities of our organizations.
At our strategic planning workshop in 2002, AAZV envisioned a future that includes a more active role for our organization in issue-based advocacy and policy development and increasing veterinary involvement in conservation programs. This latter theme builds on the commitment to conservation made at AAZV’s last strategic planning meeting over a decade ago, and it parallels our own institutions’ increasing commitments to conservation.
Zoo veterinarians are already valued members of the zoo profession and provide an essential service. Many zoo veterinarians have made significant contributions by serving as veterinary advisors for SSPs/TAGs, assisting researchers with field projects, educating and training international colleagues, and collecting baseline medical data on captive and free-living populations.
Zoo veterinarians can become more involved and participate in conservation through such efforts as health assessments of captive and free-living populations, interdisciplinary biomedical assessment teams, active research in animal health, disease risk assessment, technology transfer, identification of zoonotic diseases and their implications on population health, and monitoring ecosystem health.
Together, AZA and AAZV can provide the opportunity and networking necessary to develop in both our members the skills and knowledge needed to participate in multidisciplinary conservation efforts. We welcome this renewed partnership and look forward to meeting together in Tampa in 2006.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I would be eager to discuss this with you further at your convenience.
Nadine Lamberski, DVM, Dipl. ACZM
AAZV President 2003-2004