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Dr. Murray E. Fowler
Sacramento Zoo


The Sacramento Zoo and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine released a statement about the recent death of Dr. Murray E. Fowler. Dr. Fowler is considered by many to be the father of zoological medicine.

Dr. Fowler played a large part in the advancement of animal care in zoos, and is fondly remember for his 46 years of service to the Sacramento Zoological Society.

“In Murray Fowler’s 85 years, he revolutionized zoological medicine,” said Dr. Ray Wack, senior veterinarian at the Sacramento Zoo.  Dr. Wack is also the clinical professor at the Wildlife Health Center within the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “He started the first residency program in Zoological Medicine in 1974 and is responsible for training many of the zoo veterinarians around the world. Always a gentleman, an advocate for animal welfare, a gifted clinician, and father. Murray will be missed.”

Dr. Fowler was an international authority on zoological medicine. He traveled to more than 60 countries as both a lecturer and a consultant, and received numerous awards for his expertise and contributions to animal health. After he retired from UC Davis in 1991, he remained active with the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. He later became Director Emeritus of the Sacramento Zoological Society Board of Trustees, and Professor Emeritus of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis.

Dr. Murray E. Fowler was a forerunner in his field. He was an advocate for advancing the purpose of zoos to include the support of wildlife conservation as well as provide people a place to get close to nature.

In 1958, he became an instructor at UC Davis. A few years later, Dr. Fowler headed the first veterinary program to specifically serve the needs of non-domestic animals, whether in captivity or in the wild, a field for which he coined the term “zoological medicine.”

In 1967, he became the Sacramento Zoo’s first regular veterinarian. In 1974, Dr. Fowler proposed a joint venture between the Sacramento Zoo and UC Davis, which later became the Residency in Zoological Medicine program at UC Davis, the first of its kind in the country. Over the years he published more than 200 articles in peer reviewed scientific journals and authored or edited 27 books, including the  Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine textbook series, considered the definitive resource for the discipline.

In 2006, the Zoo dedicated its on-site veterinary hospital to him in honor of his lifelong contributions to zoological medicine and animal health.

“Dr. Fowler was an icon in the zoo profession whom I was fortunate to get to know as a warm and compassionate ambassador for the animals he loved,” said Mary Healy, Director/CEO of the Sacramento Zoo. “He will always be remembered at the Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital at the Sacramento Zoo. The Zoo is honored to have a place to celebrate his legacy.”

Greg Cotta filed this report.