Collectively, veterinarians are trained to work with a variety of species. There are equine veterinarians who treat horses, small animal veterinarians who examine dogs and cats, and livestock veterinarians who work with cattle, goats and pigs. But for veterinarians who work in zoos or with wildlife, patients can span hundreds of different species, from feathery to scaly to furry and everything in between.
Each species has unique needs and health issues. And each varies widely in anatomy, physiology and medication effectiveness. Have you ever wondered how zoo veterinarians manage to treat so many different kinds of animals? And how they work with animals that are endangered and exceedingly rare?
Such is the case for the scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah), a large antelope once native to dry environments of North Africa. In 2000, oryx became extinct in the wild, wiped out by decades of hunting, habitat loss and competition with livestock. The good news is that the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Conservation Ecology Center has been participating in an ambitious reintroduction of oryx in Chad.