AZA and AVMA: Partnerships with the Big Organizations in the Zoo and Vet Fields
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012
Thomas P. Meehan, DVM
Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL, USA


During its 52-year history the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) has developed collaborations with a number of different veterinary organizations including the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV), the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV), and the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (EAZWV). Common interests with the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians (AAWV) led to the development of a formal memorandum of agreement between the two organizations to promote shared goals of the organizations. The majority of the over 900 members of the AAZV are employed as zoo veterinarians and, as such, also have an interest in the two largest organizations representing the zoo and veterinary communities. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) represents over 6,000 members from 224 accredited zoos and aquariums in North America. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) represents over 82,000 member veterinarians primarily in the United States and Canada. These two organizations present a number of opportunities for the AAZV to advance its strategic vision as a “leading resource offering expertise in health and welfare of wildlife” and “an influential contributor to the development of policies that affect the health, welfare, and conservation of wildlife.”1

The AZA’s Animal Welfare Committee has veterinary membership as a permanent part of its structure. The Animal Health Committee is the official liaison with the AAZV. The Accreditation Commission ensures that member zoos and aquariums meet the AZA standards though a process of inspection and approval of the AZA member institutions. The accreditation standards state that members “should adopt….the guidelines for zoo and aquarium veterinary medical programs and veterinary hospitals developed by the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV).”2 The development of these standards by the AAZV provides a powerful tool for influencing the practice of zoological medicine. The AVMA has five committees that include representatives from the fields of zoo, wildlife, or aquatic medicine including the Animal Welfare Committee, the Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee, and the Committee on Environmental Issues. These committees provide the expert evaluation of issues for the policy makers in the AVMA. One of these policy makers is the House of Delegates and the AAZV has had a representative on the Advisory Panel to the House of Delegates since 2009. There are some challenges in coordinating among organizations with somewhat different visions and constituencies. However, given the high-profile and much-regulated nature of the practice of zoological medicine, it is important that we are represented in the process of developing policies and standards

Literature Cited

1.  American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Strategic Plan. 2009 (VIN editor: link editor was not accessible as of 12/22/2020.)

2.  Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 2012 Accreditation Standards and Related Policies. 2011. (VIN editor: link editor was not accessible as of 12/22/2020.)


Speaker Information
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Thomas P. Meehan, DVM
Chicago Zoological Society
Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield, IL, USA

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