Animal Residency Program at Brookfield Zoo

A Commitment to Veterinary and Conservation Science


"Don’t dismiss the cow!” says Dr. Michelle Davis, resident in the Chicago Zoological and Aquatic Animal Medicine Residency Program. Her advice to veterinary students interested in working in zoos and in the field is to, “Pay attention to all species. You never know what you’ll encounter.” She also stresses the importance of making good grades and volunteering to get to know professionals and take advantage of mentoring opportunities.

Dr. Davis is the first resident in the new Chicago-based program that was developed by the University of Illinois in 2005. A three-year residency, it incorporates Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the John G. Shedd Aquarium. The program was designed to join the institutions in a way that would allow post doctoral veterinary students the opportunity to gain exceptional clinical training.

A graduate of Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and Texas State University, Dr. Davis began her residency at Brookfield Zoo in July of 2005. Following her time here, she will continue the program with a rotation of four month visits at each of the three institutions.

She also has experience working as a veterinary intern at the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration in Mystic, CT, and at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, MA (one of the largest animal hospitals in the U.S.) —where she saw nearly 75 cases per week.

“I’ve had so many interesting experiences in this field. Most memorable is the artificial insemination of a beluga whale that I helped with at Mystic Aquarium. The first one ever to be performed!”

There are currently 12 veterinary residency programs in the country, and the new Chicago program with Brookfield Zoo likely ranks as the best. Not only does it provide a post doctoral student the opportunity to learn from experts such as zoo pathologists, nutritionists, endocrinologists, and geneticists—but it also offers experience working with an incredibly diverse collection of exotic and endangered animals. Brookfield Zoo alone has over 250 animal species.

For more information on this residency program, visit the University of Illinois website.

The Chicago Zoological and Aquatic Animal Medicine Residency Program is accredited by the American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM). 

For information on other veterinary education experiences outside of this residency, please contact us at