Alumni News

Dr. Karisa Tang Joins Shedd Aquarium Health Team

[Dr. Karisa Tang]

From Seahorses to Sea Lions

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Shedd Aquarium’s A. Watson Armour III Center for Animal Health and Welfare recently announced the addition of Karisa Tang, DVM, MS, DACZM, to its team of animal care professionals.

As a staff veterinarian at the aquarium, Dr. Tang will be responsible for providing a complete suite of preventative medicine and veterinary care to the 32,000 individual animals from 1,500 species at Shedd.

Dr. Tang was first introduced to Shedd Aquarium as part of the Illinois Zoological and Aquatic Animal Residency (IZAAR) program. The aquarium partners with the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and Brookfield Zoo through that program to provide advanced training to veterinarians who aspire to careers as specialists in zoo and aquarium clinical medicine.

After completing the three-year IZAAR program, these residents are routinely accepted to their dream jobs at zoos and aquariums across the country, and for Dr. Tang it led her back to Shedd.

As a diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine, Dr. Tang is a board-certified specialist, one of fewer than 30 in the world focused on aquatic medicine.

During her residency, Dr. Tang worked alongside boarded veterinary specialists to deliver care to zoo and aquatic animals and conducted and published original research about the field.

Providing Top-Quality Care

“[I]t is a privilege and honor to apply my knowledge and skillset to care for the residents at a world-renowned aquarium like Shedd alongside my trusted colleagues,” said Dr. Tang.

“Dr. Tang will be a critical asset in furthering Shedd Aquarium’s first-priority of providing top-quality animal care and welfare,” said Dr. Bill Van Bonn, vice president of animal health at Shedd. “While people who visit the aquarium might be surprised to learn we have an onsite animal hospital, they might be even more surprised to hear that it’s a teaching hospital. It’s an incredible honor to host residents throughout the year, but this is an extraordinary privilege to now welcome Dr. Tang back to the aquarium to continue her career.”

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More about Dr. Karisa Tang

What did you value about the IZAAR program?

“IZAAR offered a unique opportunity to work with multiple world-class institutions and a large variety of different species. The many esteemed mentors in the program were compassionate and dedicated mentors in both clinical medicine and research.”

What was your most memorable patient during your residency?

“During residency, the most memorable patient was probably Layla, the black rhinoceros, who lives at Brookfield Zoo and had obstructive sinusitis. Many different departments and specialists came together to provide highly innovative care for her. She even became the first rhinoceros to receive a CT scan.”

What advice would you give a current veterinary student interested in pursuing zoo and aquatic animal medicine?

“Pursuing a career in zoological and aquatic medicine requires persistence and dedication. I would advise students to believe in themselves and not only to take every opportunity available to them to gain experience in clinical zoo medicine and research, but also to make their own opportunities.”

Dr. Karisa Tang smiles for a photo with a Pangolin around her neckDr. Tang’s CV

  • Staff Veterinarian, Shedd Aquarium
  • Associate Veterinarian, Minnesota Zoo
  • M.S., University of Illinois
  • Medical Fellow, Vancouver Aquarium
  • Rotating Medical Intern, VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center
  • DVM, University of California, Davis
  • B.S., University of California, Los Angeles


Read about other graduates of the IZAAR program


Original article from Shedd Aquarium

Feature photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez