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Director of the
National Zoo
Dr.Lucy Spelman

Event Date: April 3, 2003

Dr. Lucy Spelman, Director of the National Zoo grew up on a fourteen-acre farm in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her love for animals and nature was born. This led her to the study of biology at Brown University, where she graduated in 1985, and to earning her doctorate in veterinary medicine five years later at the Davis campus of the University of California. Before joining the staff of the National Zoo in 1995, Dr. Spelman served her residencies at the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh and the North Carolina State Zoological Park in Asheboro.

As clinical veterinarian at the National Zoo for five years, Dr. Spelman has instituted a rigorous program for the Zoo's long-lived species, including the gorillas and bears; she conducted clinical research on anaesthesia techniques; and has developed treatments for geriatric animals. During that same period one of her major accomplishments was to ease the final years of Hsing-Hsing, one of the two pandas given as gifts from China during the Nixon Administration, who was suffering from arthritis and heart and kidney failure. She has continued to show a strong interest in the Zoo's giant pandas, having personally brought the two new pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, over from China last year.

When Dr. Spelman was named Director of the National Zoological Park in June 2000 she set out ambitious goals for revitalizing and modernizing the zoo and strengthening the bond between people and animals.

In a recent open letter from the Director to the Friends of the National Zoo and others, Dr. Spelman said, The National Zoo does have historical problems. We need to renew our facilities and our animal collection, we need to renew our policies and procedures, and we need to renew our commitment to research and conservation through expanded outreach programs and better integration of science into our exhibits. This is our vision for the future and we have already begun to move in that direction.

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