ATLANTA (July 3, 2015) – Veterinary students from across the country were at Georgia Aquarium this past month, gaining vital hands-on experience with aquatic animals through Cornell University’s AQUAVET® program. Georgia Aquarium veterinarians and marine animal experts led lectures, demonstrations and procedures to help guide and instruct the future veterinarians. The AQUAVET® program, consisting of three sequences focusing on different topics, teaches prospective veterinarians the skills required to take care of all aquatic inhabitants – including algae, invertebrates, fish, marine mammals, aquatic reptiles and birds. During the AQUAVET® III sequence, a small group of 6 to 8 students are selected to visit Georgia Aquarium, where they work alongside distinguished experts learning how to perform blood draws, ultrasounds, exams and more.
“The experience gained by our students at Georgia Aquarium cannot be recreated in the classroom. We provide more hands-on experience than anywhere else,” said Dr. Donald Stremme, V.M.D, director of AQUAVET®. “Having the ability to be active in the process and assist other veterinary professionals is an invaluable experience for their learning. It has been very rewarding seeing students after AQUAVET® and where their careers have taken them.”
Students spend the first two weeks of the five week program at Georgia Aquarium, where they hear lectures on a variety of topics and participate in health exams on African penguins, fish, alligators and other species. They also learn about water quality and life support systems in aquarium settings and meet with trainers, animal nutritionists and technicians.
“As the largest aquarium in North America, we have the unique opportunity of caring for hundreds of species of animals from all over the world. Being able to share the expertise that our team learns from working with animals in our care and research in the field with the next generation of aquatic veterinarians is yet another way Georgia Aquarium is helping make a difference,” said Dr. Gregory Bossart, V.M.D, Ph.D, senior vice president and chief veterinary officer at Georgia Aquarium.
Following their time at Georgia Aquarium, the group travels to Athens, Ga. to learn about aquatic endoscopy and surgery at the University of Georgia and then they complete the program studying dolphin health at Dolphinaris in Cancun, Mexico.
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The idea for AQUAVET® started in the mid-70s at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine. Later, Cornell University was invited to be a partner. Until 2014, the program was based out of the University of Pennsylvania and is now solely based out of Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine and will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2016. AQUAVET® began as an effort to bring together people and institutions wanting to contribute to the well-being of the aquatic environment and its inhabitants through the veterinary profession. It was also originally based in Woods Hole, Mass. using the additional expertise of the many relative institutions in that area. Students wishing to participate in AQUAVET® do not have to attend Cornell and these programs can supplement their education or count towards credit at their home college or university. More information on AQUAVET® and Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine can be found here.
ABOUT GEORGIA AQUARIUM
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga., is one of the world’s most dynamic aquariums—containing more than 10 million gallons of water and the largest collection of aquatic animals. The mission of Georgia Aquarium is to be a premier scientific institution delivering an awe-inspiring entertainment experience which supports animal research and conservation; inspires learning; and instills a passion for the aquatic world. Its exhibits and programs are of the highest standards, offering engaging guest encounters that promote the conservation of marine biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.