Monday, September 11, 2017

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announces grand opening of Mel Dodge and C. Joseph Cross Animal Health Center

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is proud to announce the grand opening of the Mel Dodge and Dr. C. Joseph Cross Animal Health Center. The 17,000-square-foot renovation and expansion project was primarily focused on upgrading current systems and adding more space for critical treatment and procedural areas.

The original Animal Health Center was built in 1991 and was just 9,000 square feet, designed when the Zoo had one veterinarian and 2,000 animals. Currently, the Zoo has a staff of four veterinarians and is home to more than 10,000 animals, which demonstrated a real need for expansion. With the improvements and expansion of the new Animal Health Center, the Zoo is better able to continue to practice and accommodate high quality medicine benefiting animals receiving care.

The project outfitted the Animal Health Center with advanced, highly specialized medical equipment including state-of-the-art radiology equipment that can capture high-quality images and is Internet-based, which allows the Zoo veterinary staff to reference images anywhere and easily share them with consultants and professional colleagues. In addition to radiology equipment, the Animal Health Center received upgrades to their endoscopy equipment, ultrasound equipment, ultracold freezers, incubators, oxygen chamber and blood analyzer.

The expansion also resulted in the addition of more laboratory space, increased pharmacy size, office and administrative areas, doubled animal quarantine space and Intensive Care Units (ICU,) new sterile storage areas and more efficient treatment rooms.

In addition to the healthcare needs met through the Animal Health Center construction, the Zoo also saw a real need for renovation and expansion of the Animal Nutrition Center, located adjacent to the Animal Health Center. The Animal Nutrition Center is where animal diets are prepared for species of all shapes and sizes and, subsequently, where the growth of the Zoo’s animal family has been felt significantly through constant needs for expansion and equipment upgrades. The Animal Nutrition Center project created designated food preparation areas and added upgraded equipment, including freezers, dishwashers and food processors.

The Animal Health and Nutrition Centers were largely funded thanks to generous support from individuals, corporations and foundations that helped to exceed the $1.5 million fundraising goal by nearly $500,000. Anita and Michael Goldberg and Rite Rug Flooring, All Life Foundation and Dr. Joe Donovan led the way through their generosity and helped to make the campaign a success.

The Animal Health and Nutrition Centers are located within the Zoo’s service complex and are not open to the public except when Wild Encounters tours are offered. These tours will be coming soon and information will be available on the Zoo’s website.

In addition to the exciting expansion and renovations to the Animal Health and Nutrition Centers, Vice President of Animal Health, Dr. Randy Junge, and Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Jimmy Johnson, both recently completed animal health certifications that advance their veterinary practices, as well as continue to establish the precedent of exemplary animal care at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium that is reflected in the newly-constructed spaces.

Dr. Junge completed the qualification examination for the American College of Animal Welfare. This grants Dr. Junge the credentials of being a Diplomate of the American College of Animal Welfare and documents his expertise in the field. Dr. Junge is one of 54 members of the college and is the first actively practicing zoo veterinarian to obtain Diplomate status.

Dr. Junge’s drive to complete this certification stems from his unwavering commitment to providing top-quality animal care and keeping a finger on the pulse of industry trends.

“As a zoo veterinarian, our professional duties are directly related to animal welfare, and it is important to apply expertise to this evolving field,” said Dr. Junge.

Both Dr. Junge and Staff Veterinarian Dr. Priya Bapodra are Diplomates of the American College of Zoological Medicine as well.

Additionally, Dr. Jimmy Johnson recently became a Certified Aquatic Veterinarian in recognition of his knowledge, skills and experience in treating and monitoring the health of aquatic mammals, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. The credentialing process consists of attaining and documenting necessary knowledge, skill and experience credits in nine core subject matters of aquatic veterinary medicine under the supervision of a Certified Aquatic Veterinarian mentor.

When they are not caring for the Columbus Zoo’s collection the Animal Health Department staff is actively participating in conservation medicine projects worldwide. Dr. Junge is the director of the Prosimian Biomedical Research Project, which focuses on health assessments and disease surveillance of lemurs in Madagascar. The project began in 2000, and Dr. Junge recently completed his 28th field project there. Dr. Priya Bapodra is currently in Uganda participating in a relocation and health assessment project with Nubian giraffes in conjunction with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. This species is becoming increasingly threatened by human activities and is now being translocated into protected areas in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Hospital Manager Laura Pierson has participated in the Saving Endangered Grey Crowned Cranes project with Dr. Olivier Nsengimana in Rwanda for the last two years. This program provides a sanctuary for confiscated cranes and medical help as needed for the potential for release of these endangered birds into Akagera National Park.

“We are very proud of the animal health staff at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for their dedication to advancing veterinary medicine. Because of their commitment and expertise—and with the capabilities now available through our renovated Animal Health and Nutrition Centers--we are able to continue making a positive difference for the future of wildlife both locally and globally,” said President and CEO Tom Stalf.


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