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Greg Fleming Memoriam

He was a brother to many of us.

On March 9th, 2013, our friend and colleague Greg Fleming passed away in Mozambique. In his almost 47 years, he lived large—seeing every day as an adventure to live and enjoy to its fullest. His booming laughter, constant banter and gregarious personality made friendship easy. He was a comedian and prankster, a proud Calgary native constantly putting us Americans in our places. And while Greg could spin a tale with antics that would have everyone laughing, he was also there when you needed him. He was our staunchest supporter, always having our backs, and generously sharing whatever he had to help those around him. He boisterously celebrated our successes, unceremoniously reminded us to "suck it up” with our frustrations, but also compassionately empathized in our sorrows. He reminded us to enjoy every moment with friends and family. 

Greg always had a love of animals, particularly reptiles, and he had been an avid herp enthusiast for years before pursuing a veterinary degree. After his career switch from investment banking, his aspirations for zoo medicine led him to Atlantic Veterinary College in PEI for vet school, Kansas State University for an exotics medicine internship, and University of Florida for a zoo medicine residency. He then became board certified in the American College of Zoological Medicine. Greg landed at Disney where he practiced clinical medicine for over 10 years, a job where his biggest rewards were "healing animals” and "interacting with guests”. Over the course of his career, he completed numerous research projects, papers, and book chapters, particularly in anesthesia and reptile medicine. His interests led him all over the world, and his network of friends extended globally. From Chile to Canada and many places in between, he lectured students and veterinarians about herp medicine. In the Mariana Islands, he performed Guam rail and kingfisher health assessments as part of a multi-institutional MAC project. In Africa he conducted research and conservation projects on rhinos, hippos, elephants, hyenas, crocodiles, and other species with SanParks colleagues. Here at "home,” Greg also actively participated in the Turtle Survival Alliance and Herp TAG, serving as one of the Komodo dragon SSP veterinary advisors. In ACZM, he served as Herp Exam Committee Chairperson, and most recently, treasurer of the organization.

But one of Greg’s greatest contributions to our field and conservation was his profound and inspiring effect on people. Greg oversaw the clinical instructor program at Disney, but took vet students and UF zoo medicine residents under his wing as well. He was a master at interacting with Disney guests, children and adults alike. He encouraged all those around him to follow their hearts and passions. Through hard work, they could achieve their goals in life…and he epitomized that work ethic in the path he chose and lived every day. His mentorship and contagious enthusiasm touched countless people. He was a champion for conservation and animal health care--no doubt, he made a difference in bringing the wonder and value of animals to people each and every day.

Greg is survived by his family whom he loved deeply: his mother, father, sister, brother in law, niece, and nephew. He left behind two beloved French bulldogs and his herpdom of reptiles. And he is also survived by those in his Disney family, many friends, and the zoo community to whom he meant so much. His passion for his field and his spirit will leave an indelible mark. Greg’s passing reminds us it is not what you do in this life but how you do it. We will continue to hear his booming laughter, remember his dynamic personality and we promise to cherish his memory always.

The Disney Veterinary Team

581705 White Oak Road
Yulee, FL 32097 USA

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