From fielding calls about a goose’s swollen eye, to observing a large mammal that’s “acting a little off,” a zoo veterinarian’s job requires nimbleness and the ability to multi-task.
A zoo and aquarium inspector, on the other hand, requires thoroughness and a methodical approach to comb through every nook and cranny of a facility striving for accreditation.
Dr. Chris Bonar does both. Really well.
Bonar’s experience and attention to detail has been recognized with the 2015 Inspector of the Year honors from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
Bonar, V.M.D., Dipl. A.C.Z.M., earned his veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine after starting his career at Harvard University with plans to be a physician. His personal passion for animals steered him into his career, and across the globe studying animals like black rhinos and lungfish, and to board certification in Zoological Medicine through the American College of Zoological Medicine.
As the Dallas Zoo’s Senior Director of Animal Health, Bonar is actively involved in clinical medicine, surgery, diagnostic imaging, pathology, and nutrition. He supervises a team of veterinarians, technicians, keepers, records administration and a nutritionist at the $3.75 million A.H. Meadows Animal Health Care Facility.
Outside of his day-to-day duties, Bonar travels the continent inspecting zoos and aquariums up for reaccreditation through the AZA. To be accredited, facilities must meet AZA’s standards for animal management and care, including living environments, social groupings, health and medical care, nutrition, record keeping and much more.
Each of the AZA’s 233 zoos and aquariums must be reaccredited every five years. That’s where Bonar stays busy.
“I always look forward to inspecting other zoos because the process is important,” said Bonar, who has been an inspector for nearly 20 years.
The inspection team spends several days at a facility. The inspectors observe all aspects of operation, including animal care, keeper training, guest safety, staff and animal safety, educational programs, conservation efforts, veterinary programs, financial stability, risk management, and visitor services.
Bonar appreciates the opportunity to grow himself as he helps other zoos achieve reaccreditation.
“I always learn something new and come back with new ideas,” he said.
Bonar is one of six AZA inspectors who call Dallas Zoo home, in addition to Gregg Hudson, CEO and president; Lynn Kramer, D.V.M., Vice President of Animal Operations; Jan Raines, D.V.M., Associate Veterinarian; Ruston Hartdegen, Curator of Reptiles; and Harrison Edell, Senior Director of the Living Collection.
Congratulations, Dr. Bonar! We greatly appreciate your commitment to excellence for the Dallas Zoo and zoos and aquariums nationwide.