Historical perspective and future directions in training of veterinary pathologists with an emphasis on zoo and wildlife species

Linda J. Lowenstine, Richard J. Montali

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article discusses the history of the field of zoo and wildlife pathology, training opportunities for veterinary students and graduate veterinarians, and current and future job opportunities. The niches occupied by veterinarians in this field and their contributions to animal and human health are also highlighted. The field of zoo and wildlife, or "non- traditional" species, pathology has its roots in comparative anatomy, zoology, wildlife biology, and medical pathology in the mid- to late nineteenth century. The initial emphasis was on comparisons between animal and human diseases or on management of game animals. Veterinarians became increasingly involved during the twentieth century, gradually changing the emphasis to improvement of conservation strategies, captive care, and elucidation of diseases of concern for the animals themselves. Currently there are several zoos and wildlife agencies in the United States employing full-time veterinary pathologists. Private and government diagnostic laboratories, veterinary schools, and other academic institutions in the United States with pathology departments are other employers. The field requires post-DVM training by means of a residency program leading to board certification, graduate school (MS or PhD degrees), or both. Veterinary students can gain valuable experience in the field through externships and, at some schools, through elective courses in the curriculum. Current concerns about ecosystem health, bioterrorism, and the recognition that captive and free-ranging wildlife can serve as sentinel species will increase the demand for veterinary pathologists choosing this very rewarding career path specializing in non-traditional species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-345
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • veterinary(all)


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