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News & Press: Member Spotlights

ECZM Residency (ZHM) in Scotland, UK

Tuesday 5 July 2016   (0 Comments)
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The veterinary residency in Zoo Health Management at the Royal Zoological Society Scotland (RZSS) began in 2014 and was the first European College of Zoological Medicine (ECZM) residency in the UK; now being joined by ZSL London Zoo and most recently Chester Zoo. The aim of the 3 year course is to provide a veterinary surgeon the advanced skills in zoological medicine required to become a recognised specialist in the field. I was fortunate enough to join the course at its inception and so I’m now nearing the end of my time as a resident… and have loved it!

One of the biggest draws for me to the RZSS course was the incredible diversity of species housed between the Society’s two parks; RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and RZSS Highland Wildlife Park. Edinburgh Zoo houses a wide collection of African, Asian, South American, and Australian species, including the UK’s only giant pandas and koalas. Meanwhile, the Highland Wildlife Park focuses on cold adapted species including polar bear, Siberian tiger, and a range of tundra hoofstock. From a veterinary perspective this creates an extremely exciting daily caseload; from dental root canal treatment on a polar bear to nail trims on an Indian rhinoceros, no day is ever the same.

In addition to the animals housed at the parks, the RZSS is also involved in a number of free-ranging wildlife conservation projects in over 20 countries around the world. During my residency I was lucky to be able to assist with several, including the health screening of beavers as part of the trial reintroduction of the species to Scotland. This adds a fascinating wildlife and conservation angle to the zoo veterinarian’s role.

I have been very fortunate to have two ECZM diplomats to mentor me during my residency. Simon Girling, the Head of Veterinary Services and current President of the European College of Zoological Medicine, and Romain Pizzi. Both Simon and Romain have a wealth of knowledge and it has been fantastic to work alongside such experienced colleagues. In addition, close links with the pathology department at Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies has enabled me to learn crucial skills in pathology and histopathology.

Looking to the future, I have no doubt that my time as a resident has taught me a huge amount and has given me the opportunity to work with some amazing species. I hope this will prepare me well for my final examinations! Additionally, I have also been able to develop knowledge and skills in my own particular areas of interest, including advanced reproductive techniques in endangered species (such as semen cryopreservation and artificial insemination). It is so exciting to see more residency courses open up across Europe, allowing keen veterinarians to advance in this fantastic field.


Anaesthesia monitoring during a health examination of Yang Guang, the giant panda

Adam Naylor 

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