Dr. Lucy H. Spelman is one of 128 veterinarians board certified in zoological medicine. Her work experience includes domestic animal, zoo animal, and wildlife medicine, as well as zoo administration, media consulting, writing, and teaching. She has also traveled extensively—her patients have included giant pandas in China, Asian elephants in Burma, giant river otters in Guyana, and mountain gorillas in Rwanda. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in biology at Brown University (1985), she earned her veterinary degree from the University of California at Davis (1990), completed a residency in zoological medicine at North Carolina State University (1994), and received her board certification from the American College of Zoological Medicine (1994). She worked for the Smithsonian Institution for nearly 10 years, first as associate veterinarian, and then as director (2000–2004) of the National Zoo in Washington, DC. She was a consultant for Discovery Communications before moving to Rwanda in 2006, where she served as the field manager for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project for nearly three years.
Dr. Spelman returned to the United States in 2009 to teach undergraduate students interested in animal health and conservation, first part-time at Brown University, and now part-time at the Rhode Island School of Design. She serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Mountain Gorilla One-Health Program, based in Rwanda, and as Secretary of the Karanambu Trust Board of Trustees, based in Guyana, South America. She enjoys public speaking and is also a published author. She and a colleague, Dr. Ted Mashima, published The Rhino with Glue-on Shoes in 2008, a collection of 28 stories by zoo and wild animal vets. In addition to long walks with her Labrador retriever, she enjoys reading, photography, and exploring the out-of-doors.