What have you done professionally since leaving the Wildlife Center?
Dr. Adam: After finishing my internship at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, I returned to the U.K. to do a master’s degree in Wild Animal Health at the Royal Veterinary College, London and ZSL London Zoo, conducting my final thesis on reproductive endocrinology in tapirs. After finishing my masters, I then undertook a second internship, this time in zoological medicine, at Bristol Zoo Gardens. In 2014, I was very excited to be offered the first European College of Zoological Medicine residency in the UK, run by Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS); I completed my residency in 2017.
What’s your current position/organization?
Dr. Adam: Associate Veterinary Surgeon – RZSS Edinburgh Zoo.
What do you do in your current job with regard to wildlife?
Dr. Adam: Although the majority of my work is focused on the veterinary care of captive animals, the RZSS also runs a significant number of field conservation projects, which frequently require veterinary input. Within Scotland, the RZSS has led on many high-profile wildlife projects, including the reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver, a species which had been extinct in Scotland for more than 200 years. As part of the veterinary team, I assisted with formulating a disease risk assessment for the reintroduction, disease screening of imported animals, and ongoing health monitoring of the wild population. In 2016, I was delighted to be made the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) Veterinary Advisor for the Native Species Working Group, a role in which I assist other zoos with veterinary aspects of native species conservation projects.
The RZSS also runs numerous wildlife conservation projects all over the world which frequently require veterinary assistance. I am currently working on a collaborative project with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) which aims to eradicate introduced rodents which are decimating the unique avifauna of Gough Island, a tiny uninhabited volcanic island in the South Atlantic. It’s a highly ambitious project but extremely exciting conservation work to be involved in!
How did your experience at the Wildlife Center of Virginia help you prepare for or influence your career?
Dr. Adam: My experience at the Wildlife Center gave me a huge amount of experience treating species that I had never worked with before. This diversity in caseload has been hugely beneficial to my work in a very large zoo collection. The grounding in wildlife medicine and surgery that WCV gave me has also enabled me to pursue wildlife project involvement while working in a zoo veterinarian position.
Based on your life and professional experiences, what advice would you give students or young professionals interested in wildlife medicine, conservation medicine, or wildlife rehabilitation?
Dr. Adam: I have always been passionate about working in zoo and wildlife medicine but as a student, it often felt like an impossible specialization to break into; opportunities felt few and far between and were always highly competitive. My advice for students and young professionals is -- don’t give up! Volunteer, go to conferences, make connections, and keep applying for opportunities that arise; every bit of experience you can gain is a step in the right direction. Don’t be discouraged if you get knocked back initially, we’ve all been there! I feel extremely blessed to be working in a job that I love (I never get Monday morning blues!) and I can attest that if working with wildlife is your passion too, it’s well worth pursuing!
Dr. Adam in the news: