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News & Press: Member Spotlights

First ECZM (Zoo Health Management) Residency in Germany

Tuesday 7 June 2016   (0 Comments)
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The Residency in Wuppertal is a great opportunity for me to get more involved with zoo and wild animal medicine and it also gives me insight into the veterinary management of a zoological institution. Currently I’m being supervised by my official ECZM/ACZM supervisor Maya Kummrow and the director of Wuppertal Zoo Arne Lawrenz. Despite having only spent a couple of weeks at the zoo before my pathology rotation in Hannover, I’ve already seen a lot of interesting cases. At the zoo we usually start the day with a short walk through the zoo to get updates on all the ongoing cases before heading back to the vet station to prepare for whatever procedures we have planned. There’s plenty to learn and see during the day but I still have to look up a lot of things in books and journals in the evening so days can get pretty long. Maya is an excellent teacher and having completed a residency program herself she also gives me great advice on how to prepare for the exams.

The Residency program is scheduled to run for 3 years which, looking at the wealth of knowledge I still have to acquire, is rather short. I’m glad that I started my veterinary career in Zurich, so I was aware of how much work and dedication it will take to successfully complete this program. But being the only ECZM (ZHM) resident in Germany isn’t easy and I’m happy that we still have a weekly book club with residents in Zurich and Copenhagen. Kathryn Perrin (resident at Copenhagen Zoo) did a terrific job in organising “mentored sessions”, which take place about once a month using Skype and bring together residents from Copenhagen, Zurich, Edinburgh, London, Chicago and Wuppertal. The residency supervisors take turns discussing specific topics related to zoo and wild animal medicine with us.

One of the great things about working in a zoo is that you get to work with so many people with all kind of specialisations, which gives you a lot of insight into other areas of veterinary and even human medicine. Let’s face it, it is pretty cool when a human medicine cardiology professor explains a heart ultrasound of a gorilla to you.

Another advantage of this residency is the collaboration with the Institute of Pathology at the TiHo Hannover. Having spent six months there doing routine diagnostics I’ve already learnt a lot, especially regarding histopathology. Most zoos in the vicinity cooperate with this pathology institute which not only gave me the opportunity to see a wide range of different cases in these six months, but also to examine some of the more unique species like a rhino and a giraffe. I’m currently being supervised in Hannover by Peter Wohlsein who is very experienced with zoo animal pathology. As we’re doing all the necropsies ourselves at Wuppertal, I get to do the histopathology together with Peter at the TiHo. This way I will not only gain experience with histopathology, but I also get to see our cases from beginning to end.

As in all residencies, research is also a requirement of the ECZM and I’m already involved in a few research projects and I’m very thankful for all the support I get from my supervisors.

These first 9 months have been an amazing experience and I’m very much looking forward to the rest of my residency in Wuppertal.

Samuel Frei

Fig: Anaesthesia monitoring during endoscopic castration of a lion. 

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