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Zoo/Exotics/Wildlife Overlap with Diagnostic Imaging Specialty


New Member
May 25, 2020
  1. Veterinary Student
Hello all! Still a year out from clinical rotations, but like many of the other posters on here I am already considering my options post-graduation and (again like many of you) I have a couple of specialties that I’m interested in, zoo/exotics/wildlife and diagnostic imaging. My question, which I couldn’t find an answer to on searching the forum, is in reference to the possibility of ultimately pursuing diagnostic imaging as a specialty. Generally speaking, do DI residents and ACVR diplomates do any/much work within the ZEW realm or is that generally left to the experts/residents/diplomates of those specialties and professional organizations? Is there any potential for a pathway from DI to zoo med similar to with clin path? Conversely, would the better pairing of these interests be to pursue something like a zoo med residency and the ACZM pathway and try to carve out a DI interest within that field myself?


c/o 2021
5+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2014
villager chat
  1. Veterinarian
I will not pretend to know anything about diagnostic imaging as a specialty, but I will say that there is a radiologist as my school who does a lot of zoo/wildlife work and has definitely worked to pursue that as a niche. My impression of zoo med as a specialty as a whole is that they end up working with specialists in other areas a good bit.
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Illegal in all 50, Unyeetable Wolf
7+ Year Member
Apr 18, 2013
The doll factory
  1. Veterinarian
Yup I would say that getting a good bit of exotics exposure through an imaging specialty is a possibility for sure. One way would be if you end up in academia at a school that is closely tied with a zoo or has a large exotics caseload. I've also seen traveling radiologists (there's one in my hometown who does everyone's ultrasounds) get to work with zoos on things like pregnancy checks and echoes, in addition to the companion exotics cases that they consult on. 3m is definitely right that there is a lot of collaboration with other specialists in the zoo world, especially for the larger zoos.
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Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
  1. Veterinary Student
Someone who knows how DI training works would be helpful here. But I do know that there is demand for radiologists that can interpret exotic images for GPS who do exotics work.

I think it sorta depends on what your goal is. Is your interest in higher imaging (MRIs, CT, fluoroscopy, etc...) vs. working with flashy zoo animals vs. are you ok with the more mundane things like ultrasounds, plain radiographs on mostly companion exotic pet populations?

the more specialized you want to be, whether it with hard to access species or technology, the smaller the niche is.

that redhead

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2010
@allygator13 may be able to help on the DI front.

As a radiologist, your bread and butter is likely to be in the common stuff (canine/feline/equine), BUT you can certainly carve out a niche for yourself such that people send their exotics stuff to you to read. I'd imagine that a lot of zoo people send their rads out to be read so you may get less intense reading as a zoo only person versus as a radiologist who is good at the less common stuff.


SGU/UTK c/o 2018!
7+ Year Member
Jan 23, 2014
  1. Veterinarian
I think you could go either way here really. From a DI standpoint, they actually recently introduced a new society, called the Zoo/Exotic/Wildlife Diagnostic Imaging Society ( Zoo, Exotic, Wildlife Diagnostic Imaging Society – American College of Veterinary Radiology ). A lot more interest is coming about now in exotics-specific imaging since it is so unique. All radiology residents are generally exposed to basic exotics imaging because it is part of boards, however the exotics caseload you get during residency is dependent on where you do your residency. Some schools (Ohio State specifically comes to mind but I'm sure there are others) do not even have an exotics department so their exotics caseload is much lower than other places like UF or Tennessee that have a well-established exotics department. As a boarded radiologist you can also pretty much dictate how much exotics work you get. My boss at my current private practice job reads all of the exotics studies that are done at our hospital (we have an exotics specialist) and just today we did two full abdominal ultrasounds on ferrets and CTs are done often. He also has been contacted to help interpret primate rads for a lab in the area. I also know of radiologists at other private practices that will sometimes perform imaging studies for nearby zoos if it is something that needs specialty care. As others have mentioned, I have also seen diplomates of the ACZM read exotics rads for teleradiology companies like Idexx. So really I think you could specialize in either, just depends on where you want your focus to be, imaging or clinical medicine with an imaging focus.
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New Member
2+ Year Member
Mar 1, 2016
The Reading Room
2nd year DI resident in academia (USA) here. What I can tell you is that there are absolutely programs out there that can “scratch that zoo/exotics” itch if you want to go into imaging. At our teaching hospital, we have a very busy exotics service that we see on a daily basis. Usually at least 3(up to 7-8ish) rads casss, usually 2-5 exotic patients meet our CT per week, and I’ve ultrasounded many ferrets and rabbits, a few birds, companion lizards (small to large), and snakes. We also see patients from local zoos throughout the year (from as small a species they have, to the largest you could feasibly transport to a teaching hospital) in all modalities. While I didn’t have a huge interest in exotics prior to my residency, the exposure I get makes me excited to see the cases pop up on my worklist. Also doesn’t hurt that the exotics clinicians genuinely want to consult with us and value our opinions, and they have also taught me so much I didn’t know about exotic patients.

Also, if the zoo-thing is more what you’re looking for, it’s not *impossible*. The Brookfield Zoo (Chicago) has a staff radiologist and even an on-site large bore helical CT!

Good luck! Diagnostic Imaging is Rad!
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