The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is met primarily through its management of Brookfield Zoo. The maintenance of a live animal collection is clearly a critical component of zoo management. The Veterinary Services Department serves to meet the medical needs of that animal collection. The department works with animal caregivers throughout the zoo to maintain the health of the animal collection through direct clinical medical and surgical care, as well as a comprehensive preventive medicine program.
Among the primary responsibilities of the department are the use of advanced diagnostic techniques to diagnose medical problems, the collection of specimens for the purpose of developing a database of normal physiologic values, and direction and participation in clinical research projects to illuminate the cause of specific disease syndromes in the collection.
Furthermore, the department oversees a program of veterinary pathology to determine the causes of mortality within the zoo collection and uses this knowledge to help improve collection management at Brookfield Zoo and at other zoos and aquariums. The Society is a founding member of a pathology program that is the first of its kind in the country, linking the zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Shedd Aquarium in a collaborative venture.
Veterinary Services staff actively engage in training programs to educate the next generation of zoo veterinarians. Among these programs is a formal veterinary student training program through the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Chicago Aquatic and Zoological Animal Residency Program, coordinated with the University of Illinois, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the John G. Shedd Aquarium.
Department members apply field research to increase our knowledge of particular medical problems that have significant conservation implications. Staff helped found the Conservation Medicine Center of Chicago, part of which includes maintaining a core research laboratory.
Finally, the department plays a key role in the conservation of free-ranging wildlife in Cook County, working closely with the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control. Staff participate in wildlife disease research to aid in the management of captive zoo animals, as well as endangered populations in the wild.