Famous Exotic Pet Veterinarians

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Veterinarians specializing in exotic pet medicine treat unique patients.
Veterinarians specializing in exotic pet medicine treat unique patients. (Image: Dean Golja/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

People such as Jack Hanna, Marlin Perkins and Joan Embry come to mind when exotic animals are mentioned. Yet in spite of the attention the work of each of these individuals has brought to the plight of exotic animals, none are trained as veterinarians. The work of other famous individuals trained and employed as veterinarians working in zoos, sanctuaries and clinics worldwide increases the public's knowledge of exotic animals.

Luke Gamble

This charismatic British veterinarian is the star of Luke Gamble's Vet Adventures featured in England on Sky 1 and in the United States on the Discovery Channel. In the show, Gamble visits locations across the globe treating exotic animals and other wildlife that otherwise would not receive veterinary care. He is also the founder and chief executive officer of two global charities: Worldwide Veterinary Services and Mission Rabies. Both organizations have extensive focus in India where WVS works to reduce feral dog populations and train locals in equine paramedics in communities where horses are a major source of power for agriculture and transport. Gamble's rabies organization began in 2013 with a goal of vaccinating 50,000 dogs in India. Gamble's British practice, Pilgrims Veterinary Practice, has two offices specializing in care and surgery for companion, equine and farm animals as well as exotic pets in England and wildlife animals.

Francis Cipullo

He is best known for the love one of his patients had for him. Cipullo always received a joyous welcome from Joe the Gorilla, a resident at the Dewar Wildlife Trust in Morgantown, Georgia, as documented by numerous online videos produced by trust staff. Joe, a Dewar resident since 2003, responded positively to Cipullo's care when the gorilla came to Dewar having lived in other American zoos since 1966. In July 2013, Zoo Atlanta -- a Dewar partner -- announced that due to declining health including cardiac challenges, Cipullo was forced to euthanize the then 49-year-old western lowland gorilla. Aside from serving as Dewar's lead veterinarian, Cipullo is the former owner of the Appalachian Animal Hospital in East Ellijay, Georgia, as well as an in-house veterinarian and teacher at the Ellijay Wildlife Rehabilitation Sanctuary.

Richard Nye

His first brush with fame came as an occasional relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs in their 1969 season. He struck out consistent hitters Hank Aaron and Richie Allen. His second bit of notoriety came as a civil engineer working on the Sears Tower construction. Inspired by a former teammate who was attending medical school, Nye decided to attend the University of Illinois Veterinary School. He graduated in 1976 with a keen interest in birds. In 1980, he was one of the founding members of the Association of Avian Veterinarians. In 1985, Nye and two other veterinarians established Midwest Bird and Animal Exotic Hospital, which is the first exotics-only specialist veterinary hospital in the United States. Nye's only rule regarding what species he will treat: no cats and no dogs.

David Taylor

He was one of only a few British veterinary surgeons whom pioneered the field of wildlife medicine bringing the needs of animals in zoos, wildlife parks sanctuaries and circuses to the forefront of veterinary medicine. Before his death in January 2013, Taylor popularized the use of dart guns to tranquilize zoo animals prior to treatment. He made appearances on children's television, wrote several books, treated the animals stars in the Las Vegas-based Siegfried and Roy act and of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circuses.

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