Zoo for You: Five Faculty Impacting the Wildlife/Exotics Field

May 26, 2019 / Message from the Dean

[Karen Terio, Kathleen Colegrove, Krista Keller, Sarah Reich, Samantha Sander]

This message will appear in the June/July 2019 issue of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association Bulletin. Above, from left: Drs. Karen Terio, Kathleen Colegrove, Krista Keller, Sarah Reich, and Samantha Sander.

Astounding Contributions in Zoo/Wildlife Health

Faculty and alumni from our college have made astounding contributions to veterinary education, research, and care related to zoo/wildlife/exotic species.

You probably see Dr. Mike Adkesson (IL DVM ’04), vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, in the news regularly, such as when the Brookfield Zoo’s black rhino gets rhinoplasty. You may even know that Dr. Jen Langan (IL DVM ’96)  has been our faculty member working full-time at Brookfield Zoo for the past 20 years, where she oversees the zoo medicine residency and veterinary student rotations in addition to performing clinical care for the animals in the collection.

The list of influential Illinois alumni and faculty in this field is impressively long. I’d like to introduce a few current faculty members who may be less well known to you, but who deserve your notice.

Zoo Path Leaders in Chicago

Last year the college’s Zoological Pathology Program (ZPP), a Chicago-based division of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, turned 25. The ZPP’s partnership with Cook County animal control and the forest preserve delivers direct benefits to Chicago area pets: the wildlife disease monitoring program alerts dog owners when transmissible disease outbreaks are occurring, as happened this year with canine distemper virus.

Dr. Karen Terio is the program’s chief. Like the other faculty members in this program, Dr. Terio delivers wide-ranging impact and leadership in her field. In addition to her scholarship and conservation with chimpanzees in Tanzania, cheetahs in Namibia, and lions of the Serengeti, to name a few species, Dr. Terio is the senior editor of Pathology of Wildlife and Zoo Animals, the definitive textbook in this field, which was published last fall by Elsevier and received the 2019 PROSE award for the best textbook in the biological/life sciences.

Dr. Kathleen Colegrove at ZPP stepped into a highly visible role in May when she became president of the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine during the organization’s 50th annual meeting, held in Durban, South Africa. Dr. Colegrove has been an active participant in the ongoing study of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico and the health impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

You can follow her work and the impact of the ZPP on Instagram at ZooPathProgram.

Dr. Mike Kinsel (who served as ZPP chief), Dr. Jennifer Landolfi, and newest member Dr. Martha Delaney round out the ZPP team.

Exotic/Zoological Medicine Service in Urbana

Six faculty members comprise the zoo service at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana.

You may be familiar with the more seasoned faculty of the group: Dr. Matt Allender (IL DVM ’04, MS ’06, PhD ’12), who also directs the Wildlife Epidemiology Lab and has helped identify, monitor, and treat snake fungal disease and other high-profile wildlife outbreaks; Dr. Ken Welle (IL DVM ’88), an avian expert who has inspired countless Illinois students to pursue an exotics practice; and Dr. Julia Whittington (IL DVM ’97), currently director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, who over the past decade shaped the college’s Wildlife Medical Clinic—now in its 41st year—into an outstanding educational and service program.

I’d like to shine a spotlight on the three newer members of this service.

Dr. Krista Keller last year received the Rising Star Award from her veterinary alma mater, Ross University. We agree that she’s a star. Dr. Keller joined us from private practice, and she has eagerly embraced the teaching and research components of a faculty role.

You can sign up for a day-long session with Dr. Keller on September 18 at Fall Conference. The pre-conference workshop “Exotic Animal 911 for the General Practitioner: Rabbits” will cover anesthesia, dentistry, and ER triage in the morning, with optional wet labs on rabbit spay-neuter surgery and dentistry in the afternoon.

Dr. Sarah Reich (IL DVM ’15) returned to the college in 2017 and who now serves as medical director of the Wildlife Medical Clinic in addition to her hospital service. Last year Dr. Reich led the move from the wildlife clinic’s space in the basement of our hospital to its first home designed and built specifically for it. This summer, thanks to a generous donor in the community, the Wildlife Medical Clinic will also gain a permanent structure for housing its resident ambassador animals and facilitating public education events.

[Gabriela Escalante examines an American black bear]

Gabriela Escalante, Class of 2019, was one of the students who participated in the professional development course at Wildlife Prairie Park.

Dr. Samantha Sander (IL DVM ’10) is a boarded zoo medicine specialist. She joined the faculty last fall. She too divides her time between the Wildlife Medical Clinic, where she leads public outreach efforts, and clinical service. Dr. Sander also took the lead on the professional development course, held in April for graduating seniors, at Wildlife Prairie Park near Peoria. Two weeks were devoted to wellness exams for the native species at the park, with hands-on opportunities for students.

Together Drs. Reich and Sander are continuing the tradition of excellent training and leadership in wildlife medicine for students through the Wildlife Medical Clinic and other opportunities. In 2018, the student-run clinic cared from more than 2,000 ill or injured wild animals (including 11 bald eagles and 1 American white pelican) brought in from more than 45 counties in Illinois!

This spring they offered a weekend of hands-on learning for veterinary students from other colleges through the Wild-Life-Line course.

You can benefit from their efforts by hiring Illinois graduates who have an excellent grounding in wildlife and exotic medicine.

And the whole world benefits from the work that Illinois faculty and alumni do collectively to advance the health of individual animals and species and to expand the knowledge base in this field.