Team of national zoo and animal experts will review Oregon Zoo practices in July
The Oregon Zoo has engaged three licensed Oregon veterinarians to enhance current animal-care staff with on-call support while the zoo works to respond to a vacant veterinarian position and hire a new position of hospital manager, officials announced.
“We are investing in additional support because providing excellent animal care is at the core of the zoo’s mission,” said Teri Dresler, interim zoo director. “Our current full-time veterinarian, Dr. Tim Storms, and the entire veterinary team are working hard every day to care for the animals, and we want to make sure they have the resources they need.”
The new hospital manager position will oversee the zoo’s veterinary medical center and provide management, documentation and communication support. The zoo hopes to fill both positions as soon as possible.
“We want to let our veterinary health team do what they do best — take care of the animals — and the new manager can focus on the day to day business of running a hospital,” Dresler said.
The zoo also requested a visit next month by a team of experts and peers from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums — the professional organization that sets standards for zoos across the country — to evaluate staffing, management, training and other protocols.
The Oregon Zoo undergoes routine AZA accreditation inspections every five years — its next review is scheduled for 2015. Dresler said the zoo is asking for an early diagnostic visit.
“We anticipate the AZA experts will find we are right in line with what’s expected at a professionally managed zoo of our size,” Dresler said. “But we also look forward to any recommendations they might make to ensure we’re following best practices.”
A 2005 AZA inspection found the zoo’s old veterinary hospital — state of the art for the 1960s and 197os — to be outdated and insufficient. That finding was part of the impetus for putting forward a $125 million zoo bond measure promoting animal welfare and sustainability, Dresler said. The zoo’s new veterinary medical center opened in January 2012.
In 1974, the Oregon Zoo became just the second zoo in the country to earn accreditation from the AZA, which currently accredits fewer than 200 zoos nationwide. During the past two years, the Oregon Zoo also has been recognized with five major awards from the AZA, three in 2012 and two more in 2013.