MSD Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link
Professional Version

Overview of Zoo Animals


Meredith Martin Clancy

, DVM, MPH, DACZM, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Reviewed/Revised Oct 2021 | Modified Oct 2022

Medical care of zoo animals has become more holistic over the past decade, encompassing all aspects of animal welfare by incorporating attention to the social and behavioral well-being of the animals, in addition to their physical health. Such a comprehensive approach to healthcare considers enclosure design, nutrition, husbandry, management, group social structure, behavioral enrichment, and good medical and surgical care.

This chapter provides a general discussion of management practices, preventive medicine, clinical care programs, and some of the more commonly encountered disorders in zoo animals. For more specific information, refer to other chapters within this section (eg, Amphibians Amphibians , Marine Mammals Marine Mammals , Llamas and Alpacas Llamas and Alpacas , Ratites Ratites , Nonhuman Primates Nonhuman Primates , Reptiles Reptiles , and Vaccination of Exotic Mammals Vaccination of Exotic Mammals ). For more information on nutrition, see Nutrition: Exotic and Zoo Animals Nutrition: Exotic and Zoo Animals .

quiz link

Test your knowledge

Take a Quiz!