Denver based veterinarian Dr Kevin Fitzgerald and Meath, Ireland veterinarian Dr Paul Kelly are separated by 4,400 miles and the Atlantic Ocean, but they are of one mind when it comes to role of veterinarians in the world.
Dr Kelly and daughter Hannah were in Denver recently to visit friend and colleagues Dr FitzGerald. On a professional level, Dr, Kelly was a scheduled guest speaker at a veterinary conference in the mountains.
The trio also went north to Fort Collins, as Hannah, who studies veterinarian practice in Budapest, is interested in CSU’s Veterinarian School. Other trips of business and pleasure included inspection of Dr. Fitzgerald’s practice, a visit to Denver Zoo, and an obligatory hoist with legendary publican John Nallen at his establishment in downtown Denver.
Although both FitzGerald and Kelly have local veterinarian practices in their home towns they believe that it is important for their profession to become more involved in conservation issues. “Veterinarians are one of the natural stewards of animal life,” said FitzGerald, who further explained, “Even our ‘Veterinarian’s Oath’ charges us to be sworn to the ‘the conservation of animal resources.’ Veterinarians are natural members of interdisciplinary projects designed to study, protect, and support threatened and endangered species. We can apply the principles and technology of veterinary medicine to conservation studies to assist in aiding threatened species.” Kelly concurred and added that the shrinking world, too often literal reality for animals, means that what affect a species in one region is, or should be, a concern for a species worldwide. “Just as easily as I could take a flu from Denver and infect someone in Dublin, can species infect each other throughout the world.” In addition to stopping infectious diseases and other invasive attacks on species, vets can bring their eyes, ears and intellect to help spotlight other factors threatening species that include habitat destruction, pollution, human overpopulation, and overharvesting.
The doctors have both spent time in natural habitats around the including FitzGerald’s studies of Polar bears in Antarctica and Manitoba and Kelly with the Far Eastern Leopard with a population fewer than 35 in the wilds of Russia to North Korea. As obvious is the benefits to studying a species in nature, FitzGerald and Kelly agree that properly run zoos are most import to help conserve animal species.
Fitzgerald is on the Board of Directors for the Denver Zoo and Kelly is active with Tayto Park Zoo in Ireland. “Modern zoos provide suitable breeding pairs, raising funds, and educating the public to the plight of critically endangered animals,” said Kelly, adding,” In the past animals were exclusively managed by individual zoos, but this practice has been replaced by databases and management protocols to aid in cooperative communication, thereby bridging a global network between zoos.”