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Remembering Dr. Murray Fowler

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Dr. Murray Fowler forged strong relationships with the Sacramento, Lodi and Folsom zoos.

Dr. Murray Fowler, DVM, DACVIM, DACZM, DABVT, 


Dr. Murray Fowler, Emeritus Professor of Zoological Medicine, was born in Glendale, Washington in 1928. He earned his DVM from Iowa State University in 1955, and after 3 years in private practice, joined the School’s faculty in 1958 as an instructor of large animal surgery. He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1960 and pursued an active and successful academic career.  Initially he focused on equine medicine; however, his interests expanded in 1967 when he volunteered for a newly created faculty position for non-domestic animal medicine.  

As Chief of the Zoological Medicine Service, Dr. Fowler assumed responsibility for the first program of its kind in the world, and the only one of its kind for the next 10 years.  He forged strong relationships with the Sacramento, Lodi and Folsom zoos, which allowed his veterinary students to gain hands-on experience with zoo animals. In 1974 he initiated a joint resident training program in zoological medicine with the Sacramento Zoo, with his first resident, Dr. George Kollias, graduating in 1976. Since that time, more than 32 residents have graduated from what is arguably one of the finest residencies of its kind in the world. 

Dr. Fowler always had a keen interest in toxic plants and enjoyed working with colleagues in the Department of Plant Pathology and the Department of Botany. He audited courses on toxic plants, and even taught toxic plants for the Botany Department as part of their toxicology course. His expertise in this area prompted him to successfully sit the specialty board examination and become a diplomat in the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology in 1969. 

Dr. Fowler has authored and edited 27 textbooks, including the Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine series, considered the definitive reference set for the zoological medicine discipline. He was one of the first veterinary experts in llama and alpaca medicine in North America, and authored more than 200 scientific papers on llamas, alpacas and camelids, including the textbook, Medicine and Surgery of South American Camelids, first published in 1989. He also served as the editor of the Journal of Zoo Animal Medicine for nine years.

Dr. Fowler was a highly skilled and effective teacher, a leading researcher, and an international authority in the field of zoological medicine, and served in numerous leadership and administrative roles in his department, at the School, and on the campus.  Widely known for his expertise and landmark publications, he was a highly popular invited speaker at professional meetings and symposia; traveling to more than 60 countries.  

Dr. Fowler was certified by the American College of Zoological Medicine (which he helped charter), American Board of Veterinary Toxicologists, and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. He received numerous awards, including the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Animal Welfare Award, the Marlin Perkins Award from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the Stange Memorial Alumni Award from the Iowa State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, the Maagizo Davis Award for Outstanding Service to the Sacramento Zoo, the Emil Dolensik Award from the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, and many others.

He was an active member of the AVMA, the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, the Wildlife Diseases Association, the International Association of Aquatic animal Medicine and the East African Wildlife Society.  

Dr. Fowler retired from the University in 1991 after 33 years of service, and remained active in the profession throughout his life. In 2006, the Sacramento Zoo dedicated its state-of-the-art, on-site veterinary hospital to Dr. Fowler in honor of his lifelong contributions to zoological medicine and animal health.  

A memorial service for Dr. Fowler will be held on Saturday, May 31 at 11:00 AM. at:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
785 Elmwood Drive
Davis, California  95616
Condolences may be sent to the family via Mrs. Fowler:
Audrey Fowler
427 Cabrillo Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

To make a gift in memory of Dr. Fowler to support the training and support of future zoological veterinarians, please mail your check made payable to the UC Davis Foundation to UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, PO Box 1167, Davis, CA 95617.

A celebration of Dr. Fowler’s life will be arranged for later this summer.