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Chris Tabaka, DVM
World Chelonian Trust Veterinary Advisor / Trustee
Copyright © 2003 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved
Chris Tabaka grew up in
Michigan where as a kid his fascination with turtles was born when he brought
home Hercumer, his kindergarten class' common snapping turtle for the summer. It
was love at first sight and led to long, long summers for the various painted
turtles, snappers, and sliders in various ponds in the neighborhood.
Knowing at a very early age he wanted to help animals, he attended Michigan State University earning a bachelors in biology and then a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. During this time he worked closely with the wildlife rehabiltation center at the vet school and decided that zoo veterinary medicine, with it's incredible variety of taxa as well as clinical cases, was the only career choice worth pursuing. This was largely encouraged by his future wife and fellow vet student Amy Richard.
Following graduation, he did an internship at the Toledo Zoo where his love of reptile medicine was born. It was also during this time that the reptile curator, R. Andrew Odum, gave him his first tortoise as a departing gift. In 1994, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee to work at the Memphis Zoo. After nine years there, in the summer of 2003, he moved back home to Detroit, Michigan to work at the Detroit Zoological Institute which is in the process of building the multimillion dollar International Turtle Conservation Center.
Chris' first encounter with the World Chelonian Trust board was when Darrell Senneke contacted him in 1998 about a pair of conjoined elongated tortoise hatchlings. Less than a year later he became a proud trustee as well as veterinary advisor of the World Chelonian Trust.
In terms of ongoing chelonian pursuits, Chris is intensively involved with the Turtle Survival Alliance on a variety of levels including being the point person and veterinary advisor for a variety of species. He has also done a lot of reptile medicine training and consulting including working with colleagues and friends at the Chengdu Zoo in China as well as Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong. His research pursuits include working with the University of Florida in developing immunological reagents in Cuora galbinifrons (and hopefully most of the other Asian species if this is successful), fieldwork on tarantulas in Belize, and Louisiana pine snake (Pituophis ruthveni) radiotelemetry release research in Louisiana. Lastly, he does a lot of work with the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and the AZA's Chelonian Taxon Advisory Group.
Like the rest of the trustees, he believes very strongly in working closely with others in order to acheive the WCT's goals of promoting conservation and education and thereby ensuring that all of the chelonia here today are still here many generations from now..
World Chelonian Trust
PO Box 1445
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