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Focus Area – Zoological Medicine

Zoological Medicine is the broad term used to encompass the practice of medicine and surgery in nontraditional species. It includes a number of different areas, including exotic animal private practice, aquatic animal medicine, wildlife medicine, and zoo practice. Zoological Medicine (ZM) combines many elements of veterinary medicine, including preventative medicine, clinical medicine and surgery, pathology, clinical ecology, regulatory compliance, facilities and personnel management, and research.

Zoological Medicine veterinarians find work in private practice, government agencies, non-government organizations (NGO’s), academia, and even industry, and have responsibilities for a wide variety of species. ZM veterinarians can enter the field through several routes. Veterinarians offering clinical management of privately owned zoological species or for smaller zoological institutions may enter practice directly after DVM training. Specialists seeking to serve major zoological institutions, government agencies, large NGO’s or academia typically receive post-DVM education, either in an internship/residency format and/or research training in MS or PhD programs.

Board Certification is available in Zoological Medicine through the American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM). For individuals preparing for private practice options that emphasize avian, reptile and amphibian, or exotic mammal medicine, Board Certification is also available through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in those species defined specialities. Residency training positions can be very competitive and, therefore, good planning and preparation is important during the vet school years.

Zoological Medicine is a sufficiently broad career path that veterinary students should be careful to avoid too much specialization; it is arguably the ultimate mixed animal practice. Animal handling of a variety of species, clinical skills, and pathology are all important. Research, both basic and clinical, is an important component of Zoological Medicine.

Focus Area Leader & Advisor

Additional Advisors

Year 1-3 Courses

Electives: Complete at Least 3 Electives (6 Credits). Check Current Listings for Any Course Changes.

There are no prerequisites for these courses. Multiple years of registration are allowed for CBS 817, CBS 818, and VMC 921.

CourseTitleSemesterInstructorYear  |  Credits
CBS 817Advanced Topics in Zoological Medicine |FallDr. Kennedy-StoskopfEvery Year  |  2
CBS 818Advanced Topics in Zoological Medicine |SpringDr. Kennedy-StoskopfEvery Year  |  2
VMC 921Special Topics in Zoological MedicineFall, SpringDr. LewbartEvery Year  |  1-3
VMC 923Research in Zoological HealthSummerDr. StoskopfEvery Year  |  1-4
VMC 924Equatorial Zoology and Medicine In GalápagosSession I/lIDr. LewbartEvery Year  |  1
VMC 928Wild Reptile MedicineFall/SpringDr. LewbartEvery Year  |  1
VMP 986One Health – Philosophy to PracticeSpringDrs. Slenning and Kennedy- StoskopfEvery Year  |  2
FW 730Ethics in Fisheries and Wildlife SciencesSpringDr. StoskopfEvery Year  |  2

Selectives: Complete at Least 5 Credits. Check Current Listings. All Selectives Are 1 Credit Per Week.

VMC 991Advanced Ferret MedicineFallDr. HarmsWk 1 | 1,2,3
Odd Years
VMC 991Advanced Herptile MedicineFallDr. StoskopfWk 1 | 1,2,3
Even Years
VMP 991Non Domestic Animal PathologyFallDr. CullenWk 1,2 | 2,3
Every Year
VMC 991Advanced Fish MedicineFallDr. LewbartWk 2 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMC 991Raptor Medicine and RehabilitationFallDr. ApplegateWk 2 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMC 991World Travel: Health & Safety (former Health/Safety in Third World)FallDr. LoomisWk 2 | 1,2,3
Even Years
VMC 991Advanced Carnivore MedicineSpringDr. Kennedy-StoskopfWk 1 | 1,2,3
Odd Years
VMC 991Environmental Medicine & PolicySpringDr. Kennedy-StoskopfWk 1 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMC 991One Medicine One HealthFallDr. Kennedy-StoskopfWk 2 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMC 991Primate MedicineSpringDr. Kennedy-StoskopfWk 1 | 1,2,3
Even Years
VMB 991Avian Anatomy & PhysiologySpringDr. SmallwoodWk 2 | 1,2,3
Odd Years
VMP 991Experiences in AquacultureSpringDr. LevineWk 2 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMP 991Invertebrate MedicineSpringDr. LewbartWk 1 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMC 991Companion Avian MedicineSpringDr. FlammerWk 1 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMC 991Adv. Companion Avian MedicineSpringDr. FlammerWk 2 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMC 991Lab Animal MedicineFallDr. FishWk 2 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMP 991Avian Path ISpringDr. BorstWk 1 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMP 991Avian Path IISpringDr. BorstWk 2 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMP 991Non-Domestic Animal PathologyFallDr. CullenWk 1 | 1,2,3
Every Year
VMC 991Intro to Conservation HealthSpringDr. StoskopfWk 2 | 1,2,3
Odd Years
VMC 991Marine MammalSpringDrs. Stoskopf and HarmsWk 2 | 1,2,3
Odd Years
VMC 991Intro to Zoological HealthSpringDr. StoskopfWk 2 | 1,2,3
Even Years
VMC 991Veterinary IllustrationSpringDr. StoskopfWk 1 | 1,2,3
Even Years

Recommended Courses

Consult with your advisor.

Year 4 Required Rotations

  • VMB 976 – Radiology
  • VMB 977 – Anesthesia
  • VMP 977: Autopsy/Clinical Pharmacology
  • VMP 978: Clinical Pathology
  • VMC 971 – Small Animal Medicine (2-block rotation)
  • VMC 973 – Small Animal Surgery (VMC 973G-General or VMC 973O-Orthopedics)

+ One of the Following Primary Care Requirement:

  • VMC 939 – Small Animal Primary Care
  • VMC 989 – Zoo Medicine (2 rotations, consecutive)
  • VMC 998 – Basic Wildlife Rehab Medicine, NC Zoo
  • VMC 999 – Advanced Wildlife Rehab Medicine, NC Zoo

+ One of the Following Emergency Care Requirement:

  • VMC 960 – Small Animal Emergency
  • VMC 966 – Equine Emergency

+ One of the Following Equine Care Requirement:

  • VMC 979 – Equine Medicine
  • VMC 975 – Equine Surgery

+Two of the Following :

  • VMP 970 Ruminant Health Management
  • VMP 973 Special Topics – Epidemiology
  • VMP 979 Epidemiology
  • VMP 940 Theriogenology
  • VMC 941 Special Topics – Theriogenology
  • VMP 982 Poultry Health Management I
  • VMP 983 Poultry Health Management II
  • VMP 984 Swine Medicine I
  • VMP 985 Swine Medicine II
  • VMP 987 Ruminant Special Topics

+Three of the Following (Primate Counts as 2):

NOTE: Only two courses at the Zoo can be chosen to fulfill this requirement, meaning that each student must take at least one course in this group not taught on the zoo grounds. Students may count VMC 989 (Zoo Medicine), VMC 998 (Basic Wildlife Rehab), or VMC 999 (Adv. Wildlife Rehab) toward both their Primary Health Requirement and their Species Requirements.

  • VMC 996 Advanced Exotic Animal Medicine
  • VMC 959 Advanced Primate Medicine (2 consecutive rotations)
  • VMC 999 Advanced Wildlife Rehab Medicine, NC Zoo
  • VMC 998 Basic Wildlife Rehab Medicine, NC Zoo
  • VMC 988 Exotic Animal Medicine
  • VMC 950 Sea Turtle
  • VMC 964 Zoological Husbandry & Nutrition, NC Zoo (not currently offered starting with Class of 2019)
  • VMC 989 Zoo Medicine (2 rotations, consecutive)
  • VMC 987 Aquatic Medicine

DVM Thesis Option

This is an option for students seeking to distinguish themselves and not in any way a requirement for the Zoological Medicine Focus. Students interested in pursuing some types of career in Zoological Medicine can benefit considerably from choosing to do a DVM thesis. This is entirely optional. It provides the opportunity to select a project and investigate the topic in depth throughout the time spent in the veterinary curriculum and prepare a paper for peer reviewed publication. Students desiring this option should talk with their faculty mentor as soon as they are aware of their interest in pursuing the option, and no later than the last week of their second year. DVM Theses are research based and should deal with some aspect of zoological medicine. Students will be expected to demonstrating their familiarity with the published literature pertaining to their thesis topic, and provide some original contribution to our understanding of the topic.  The thesis material will be suitable for peer reviewed publication, and the student will be encouraged to publish. Students selecting this optional thesis opportunity will select a thesis professor from the zoological medicine faculty to advise them and may be encouraged to add other advisors depending on the project. The major professor does not have to be the student’s faculty mentor, nor does the faculty mentor have to sit on the committee, though this is possible if appropriate. The student will outline their intended topic and direction and work with their faculty to develop the thesis project.

Other Experiences

Employment Opportunities/Externships/Funding

  • CVM Summer Research Interns – Dr. Meurs
  • Foundation Research Grants (Hitchings, Dodge, Morris, etc.)
  • Externship Opportunities
  • See listings posted by WAAZM
  • Ask faculty for recommendations
  • Ask senior students for recommendations


Students may benefit from attending a zoological medicine conference. Annual meetings to consider include the following. Check websites at end for home pages of these organizations, which have latest information on upcoming meetings.

  • Annual Meeting of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (5-day meeting in October or November)
  • International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (5-day meeting in April or May)
  • Wildlife Disease Association (5-day meeting in July or August)
  • Association of Avian Veterinarians (4-day meeting in early to mid August, location varies)
  • North American Veterinary Conference (6 day meeting in January, Orlando, FL)
  • Western Veterinary Conference (6 day meeting in February, Las Vegas, NV)

Extracurricular Activities

  • WAAZM Club (Wildlife, Avian, Aquatic and Zoo Medicine Club)
  • Invertebrate Medicine Club
  • Fall Bear Project
  • Raptor Labs
  • Crissey Zoological Nutrition Symposium
  • Turtle Rescue Team
  • Wild Carnivore Team
  • ZTAU Design Team
  • Marine Animal Health Assessments
  • Aquatics Team
  • Zoo Veterinary Day Camps

Other Useful Information

Recommended Journals

  • Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
  • Journal of Wildlife Disease
  • Journal of Reptile Medicine and Surgery
  • Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery
  • Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
  • Journal of Marine Mammal Science

Recommended Memberships

There are many organizations available to join. It is not important to join them all, but if you are interested in a particular area of zoological medicine it would behoove you to join the main organizations related to your area of interest. It is a good way to know what is going on and often offers opportunities to meet people and make contacts. For example, if you think you want to work with free-ranging wildlife, it would be good to belong to the WDA. If you have an interest in aquatic medicine, it would be good to belong to the IAAAM, etc. Student memberships at very good rates are available from most of these organizations.

  • International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM )
  • American Fisheries Society (AFS)
  • American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV )
  • Wildlife Disease Association (WDA)
  • American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians (AAWV)
  • Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV)
  • Association of Amphibian and Reptile Veterinarians (AARV)
  • American Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators (AAWR)

Recommended Electronic Mailing List


Useful Internet Sites

Recent/Current Number of Zoological Medicine Focused Students

  • Class 2013: 4
  • Class 2014: 6
  • Class 2015: 3
  • Class 2016: 7
  • Class 2017: 8
  • Class 2018: 9
  • Class 2019: 11
  • Class 2020: 10
  • Class 2021: 9
  • Class 2022: 12
  • Class 2023: 11
  • Class 2024: 0 declared to date