Dr. Doug Whiteside


Celebrating World Veterinary Day

April 29, 2023 | 4 minute read

29 APRIL 2023 (Calgary) We’re lucky to have an incredible team of veterinary professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of the animals we love and care for. From routine check-ups to life-saving procedures, our team (comprised of four Veterinarians, a Veterinary Fellow, an Animal Health Supervisor and four Registered Veterinary Technologists) makes sure that our animals receive the highest standard of care at all stages of their lives.

To our veterinary team, your expertise, skill and compassion are what make you so vital to the wellbeing of the animals in your care. Your tireless efforts in advancing animal medicine and research continue to push boundaries and improve the lives of animals. Thank you for your unwavering dedication to animal care and conservation. The amazing work you do every day does not go unnoticed.

In celebration of this day, we caught up with Dr. Doug Whiteside, our Interim Director of Animal Health & Welfare and Head Veterinarian, to learn more about his role and his time at the zoo. Here’s what he had to say!

Share a favourite memory or moment from your time at the zoo.
I have been fortunate to be part of many incredible moments at the zoo over the years. A few of my favourites have been the significant births/hatches of endangered species under our care at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo including Western lowland gorillas, Asian elephants, giraffes, Amur tigers, Vancouver Island marmots, whooping cranes and greater sage grouse.

Have you been in any other roles during your time at the zoo? What were they?
I started at the zoo 22 years ago as a Staff Veterinarian, and over the years have progressed from Senior Veterinarian to my current position as Head Veterinarian and Senior Manager of Animal Health & Welfare.

If you could be transformed into one animal, what would it be and why?
This is a tough question as animals have so many diverse, unique and amazing adaptations. For today, it would be an octopus to have many arms available and the creativity to tackle the multitude of tasks at hand.

What has changed the most since you started at the zoo?
There have been advances in many aspects of conservation, animal care, health and welfare over my 2+ decades at the zoo. One thing that we do a much better job at now is sharing these advances with the general public and engaging them more in our conservation journey. Another thing that has really helped is the use of technologies like smartphones. Animal care staff can send a video or picture of an animal and it allows us to triage our medical cases more effectively.

What surprised you the most about your job?
As challenging as the medicine can be with the wide variety of species we manage at the zoo, it is often the easier part of my day. Leading and managing people can be far more challenging, and you have to work hard and continuously learn to become better at it.

What advice would you give a new colleague on their first day?
It is incredible to have a career that you can be passionate about. However, don’t let that passion become your obsession, and make sure you take the time to focus your life on areas where you can’t be replaced.

What motivates you most to come to work every day?
Being part of an amazing team and working with passionate colleagues to advance the care, health and welfare of, and preserve the future for, conservation-sensitive species.

Once again, a heartfelt THANK YOU to our incredible Veterinary team! To veterinarians around the globe, the work that you do makes a difference in the lives of animals every day. We appreciate you!

Dr. Doug Whiteside

Dr. Doug Whiteside