Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center

Zoological Medicine Service

Drs. Wack and Larsen examine a chimpanzee with Zoo Med residents

The Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center partners with the Sacramento Zoo to provide veterinary services and training opportunities for veterinary students and zoological medicine residents. The zoo med resident spends the second and third years at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park and SeaWorld. Dr. Ray Wack runs the program. In 2000, the long-term collaboration between the Sacramento Zoo and the School of Veterinary Medicine was formalized into a unique partnership to share facilities and expertise, to accommodate the training of zoological medicine residents, and to further wildlife conservation.


Established in 1974 by Dr. Murray E. Fowler, the Zoological Medicine Service and Residency Program was the first zoological medicine residency in the world and provides instruction to veterinary students, training for residents, and clinical services to the zoological community. Dr. Ray Wack is the Chief of Service and coordinates the Zoological Medicine Residency, while he also serves as the head veterinarian at the Sacramento Zoo.

Dr. Wack also coordinates the Zoological Medicine Clinical Rotation for senior students, is the track leader for the Zoological Medicine track, and is the primary clinician for the VMTH Zoological Medicine clinical service. The ZMSRP provides the primary instruction to students in the Zoological Medicine Track in both didactic and clinical settings. It is the only service that provides contract services to zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), thus giving students and residents unique access to a diversity of species. The Zoological Medicine Service accepts referral cases from zoological institutions and provides phone consultation. It has inspired future veterinarians to participate in One Health initiatives and Zoological Medicine, made a difference in the lives of individual animals in zoological institutions, and contributed to endangered species preservation. It is recognized as one of the premier training programs in the world for students and residents interested in zoological medicine/ecosystem health. In the last 5 years, over 75 veterinary students have been mentored as Zoological Track students. Additional activities include conservation research and wildlife health and disease surveillance in endangered species such as Grevy's zebras, giant garter snakes, and riparian brush rabbits.