A few weeks ago, four of the Gorilla Doctors attended the annual American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) conference in San Padre Island, Texas, to network with and learn from zoo and wild animal veterinarians from around world. Our own Dr. Jan, the outgoing president of AAZV, was joined by Drs. Mike and Kirsten, plus Dr. Eddy, who won a scholarship to travel from his home in DR Congo to the U.S. to attend. Here is Dr. Eddy’s report.

Drs. Jan and Eddy at the AAVZ conference

As a field veterinarian working with the MGVP in Congo, I have the mission of improving the sustainability of mountain gorilla populations using an integrated or One Health approach that combines health care, research, capacity building, information sharing, and strategic partnerships within DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. With regard to the MGVP mission, the AAZV conference was for me the best conference to attend because it directly addressed the issues I deal with in my daily work.

Learning about giraffe anesthesia.

The conference exceeded my expectations. Through presentations, discussions with colleagues, and the reading of reliable publications of scientific findings, I learned a great deal about the healthcare and conservation of free-ranging wildlife. I had the opportunity to hear from and meet with veterinarians with great skill in wildlife medicine.

Dr. Eddy with colleague Kris Abbott.

I was also excited to learn about the work of AAZV members who work with terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. I got to know people from different countries tackling similar issues as MGVP, including how to conduct transboundary wildlife management, how to promote sustainable conservation, and how to include public health support.


During the conference a banquet was organized and I heard good speeches by amazing speakers. Some were funny and others related hard moments such as stories of people who died while working hard to promote wildlife medicine and conservation. The highlight of the banquet was the “roasting” of Dr. Jan, who was ending her mandate as AAZV president. She was honored for being a good leader and a very nice person. She is a model for me to follow. I was proud of you Dr. Jan and I say thank you!

Dr. Jan outside the western lowland gorilla exhibit.

I also visited the Gladys Porter Zoo on Halloween Day, which was a very nice time. I saw western lowland gorillas and a large number of terrestrial and marine mammals and birds.

Dr. Eddy having fun with a crocodile statue.

After this conference, my view and awareness about One Health medicine is changed and revived, and so I will be paying more attention when investigating the health problems of all wildlife occurring in my area. I believe my ability to perform interventions and preventive medicine is increased, and so I will contribute more significantly to the achievement of the mission of MGVP.

For my country, a very poor one, I will be the ambassador of the AAZV mission. This mission is to educate veterinarians and the public in order to promote the general welfare and conservation of free-ranging and captive wildlife, big and small, for future generations.