Veterinary FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
1) How do I become a veterinarian?
After receiving an undergraduate degree, veterinarians go to school for four more years—as long as medical doctors, who only learn about one species! Good grades are very important in high school, as is developing good study habits.

2) How do I become a zoo veterinarian?
Zoo veterinarians go to the same schools as all other veterinarians. They just take extra electives, go to zoo preceptorships while in school and some (14–15 individuals out of 3,000 vets graduating each year in North America) go to internship/residency programs after graduation. However, most of their specialization comes from LOTS of reading.

3) What is a board-certified zoo veterinarian?
There are slightly more than 100 board-certified zoo vets in the world. Lincoln Park Zoo has one! Lincoln Park Zoo also teaches an ACZM-approved program for teaching residents. Board-certified vets must complete either a three-year zoo residency or six years as a full time zoo vet, publish five papers, one which is a research project, and take a two-day test that covers all zoo and wildlife species!

4) Where can I go to veterinary school?
There are 33 vet schools in the United States and Canada. Not all states have a veterinary school, and there are only two states with two. Each has its own requirements, so look online early!

5) How do I get animal care experience?
The best place to start acquiring animal experience is by volunteering with domestic animals. Try a humane society, animal shelter or private veterinary hospital. After you have some baseline experience, you can look into volunteer programs at Lincoln Park Zoo or attend classes offered by the veterinary and curatorial staff. Most vet schools have Open House Veterinarian programs for the community; the zoo's veterinarians are often asked to participate or be guest speakers at these programs.

6) How do I get veterinary experience?
The best place to start acquiring animal experience is by volunteering with domestic animals. Try a humane society, animal shelter or private veterinary hospital. After you have some baseline experience, you can look into volunteer programs at Lincoln Park Zoo or attend classes offered by the veterinary and curatorial staff. Most vet schools have Open House Veterinarian programs for the community; the zoo's veterinarians are often asked to participate or be guest speakers at these programs.

7) How do I get zoo experience?
The best place to start acquiring animal experience is by volunteering with domestic animals. Try a humane society, animal shelter or private veterinary hospital. After you have some baseline experience, you can look into volunteer programs at Lincoln Park Zoo or attend classes offered by the veterinary and curatorial staff. Most vet schools have Open House Veterinarian programs for the community; the zoo's veterinarians are often asked to participate or be guest speakers at these programs.

8) Can I tour the zoo animal hospital?
"Doc" Searle, M.D. Animal Hospital is a working hospital that cares for more than 1,000 animals, so it cannot be open to the public. Also, due to health concerns, guests under the age of 16 years are unable to visit. The tours that are available are pre-arranged and may be associated with classes taught by the vet staff. In the meantime, you can do a virtual tour of the animal hospital.

9) Can I meet the zoo veterinarians?
"Doc" Searle, M.D. Animal Hospital is a working hospital that cares for more than 1,000 animals, so it cannot be open to the public. Also, due to health concerns, guests under the age of 16 years are unable to visit. The vet staff does routinely teach classes, and more can be learned about Lincoln Park Zoo’s veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, and nutrition staff by reading their bios. You can also see Lincoln Park Zoo's veterinary team in action with the Smithsonian Channel's Zoo Vets special.

10) How do I become a veterinarian technician?
The zoo's veterinarians cannot do their job alone! They have three trained, certified veterinary technicians that act as nurses, anesthetists, laboratory analyzers and many other roles. Find out more about being a veterinary technician at the Association of Zoo Veterinarian Technicians.