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Alumni Stories


Shirley Yeo Lizo - Zoo Vet

By: Shirley Yeo Llizo, VMD, Class of 1989 Date: Apr 18, 2016

My first vet job was in a SA/Exotics practice in Central NJ. After almost a year, I was offered the Head Veterinarian position at the Singapore Zoo which has now expanded into the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari (opened 1995) and River Safari (2013).

Prior to coming over to America for my higher education, I was a Veterinary Assistant at this zoo. When the Head Vet resigned (my previous boss), the then Zoo Director contacted me and invited me to return to run the Veterinary Department there.

Shirely Yeo Lizo and SlothAfter spending three wonderful years, albeit sometimes challenging times, at the Singapore Zoo, it was time to return to America. By this time, I had gotten married. While waiting for a zoo position to open, I was back in private practice in a SA/Exotics practice in Central NJ, and also a consultant for a small privately-owned zoo.

In 1994, I accepted a position at the Houston Zoo, TX. There I spent 10 years working in a multi-vet department.

Besides working at the zoo, I also assisted at the Houston SPCA whenever they had confiscations of wild ​or exotic animals. I had the privilege of being on the pilot episode of Animal Planet’s Animal Cops, Houston and one other episode.

On one occasion, I was subpoenaed as an expert witness on a confiscation case. Shirley Yeo Lizo Feeding a CubAnother time I assisted the State in transferring three circus brown bears to a wildlife sanctuary in east Texas. After neutering a cougar for the local county, the mayor named a day after me.

In late 2004, I shifted gears and went out on my own, doing consultant work for various institutions.

Then a major change happened in my personal life in mid-2005 – I had a baby girl! (Perhaps this was my mid-life crisis). Being my own boss, time was more flexible than if I had a 9-to-5 job (more like 7:30-to-6), allowing me to spend more time with my family.

However, I could not stay away from zoo work for very long, and in 2006, I accepted the Zoo Vet position at the Topeka Zoo & Conservation Centre where I currently work, celebrating my 10-year anniversary this year.