Speakers & Optional Events

AZADV 2014 National Conference

We are excited to welcome the following keynote speakers. Dates and times are listed on your registration form. All speakers are now limited to full conference registrants.

Bruce Beehler, D.V.M.

Bruce Beehler, D.V.M.

Banquet and Keynote Speaker

Conservation and Wildlife of Botswana

Dr. Bruce Beehler has a long and productive history with the Milwaukee County Zoo. In 1980 the Zoo hired him as its first full-time veterinarian. Dr. Beehler developed medical protocols and spearhead the establishment of animal and medical records. In 1987 he was appointed Deputy Zoo Director/Animal Management and Health, managing all animal division programs, facilities, staff and the Zoo’s large animal collection. Under Dr. Beehler’s direction, the Medical Department increased the number of veterinarians and veterinary technicians. In 2003, he oversaw the construction of a new, large, modern Animal Health Center. Dr. Beehler was also instrumental in the planning and development of new exhibits and exhibit buildings. He also has coordinated research for conservation projects at the Zoo. To enrich his animal knowledge and research experience, Dr. Beehler traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. His fondness for Africa has led him there many times, and he now he leads groups on photo safaris. An accomplished photographer, he will share a photo safari of wildlife and conservation in Botswana.

Sadly for the Zoo community, Dr. Beehler has scheduled his retirement for May 2014. He has a history of speaking to and sharing with the Zoo's volunteers. So he wouldn't think of not being part of the AZADV Conference.

Victoria Clyde, D.V.M.Victoria Clyde, D.V.M.

Luncheon Speaker

The Milwaukee Ape Heart Project: Understanding heart disease in great apes

Dr. Victoria (Vickie) Clyde is one of two staff veterinarians at the Milwaukee County Zoo, home to one of the largest groups of captive bonobos in the world. Dr. Clyde has been the veterinary advisor to AZA’s Bonobo Species Survival Plan since 1998 and has focused on cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, the two main causes of mortality in adult captive bonobos. The Zoo has performed pioneer work in obtaining echocardiograms on awake and unrestrained bonobos. Dr. Clyde co-founded the Bonobo Cardiovascular Database with two health experts who have  volunteered their services to the Zoo: Leann Beehler, a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer, and Dr. Samuel Wann, a Milwaukee physician who is a leading cardiologist. Their work led to improvement in the care of these endangered great apes. Dr. Clyde is also a founding member of the Milwaukee Center for Bonobo Conservation and is a steering committee member of the Great Ape Heart Project. Dr. Clyde is particularly adept at communicating information about animal health to a family audience through the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s publications. She will give a history of the Milwaukee Ape Heart Project, the development of a bonobo cardiac database, the Zoo's extensive training of animals to help in their own health care, and the results of ape-heart-health studies that are improving the lives of captive apes.

Mrs. Nancy Kennedy

Dessert Speaker

Read, Write and Roar: How a Jaguar Moved Two Nations

Nancy Kennedy, a friend of the Milwaukee County Zoo who is a frequent visitor to Belize, is the author of the children’s book "Pat the Great Cat." A farmer in Belize captured Pat, a jaguar that preyed upon local livestock. Instead of destroying the animal, the farmer sent Pat to the Belize Zoo so the jaguar could be habituated to people and live safely in zoos. Eventually, Pat was brought to the Milwaukee County Zoo. He is a valuable addition to the captive jaguar gene pool. He was introduced to the Zoo's female, Stella. All went well and in November 2012, two male cubs were born.

Mrs. Kennedy, together with children of Belize and children of Milwaukee, spent many hours researching and writing about Pat and the world of the jaguar. Their work was combined and edited into the book "Pat the Great Cat." The book, written in English and Spanish, shows how one animal can become a symbol for conservation efforts. The book also demonstrates how one animal can tie together two communities and the education of children. The book is a text in most Belizean classrooms. Many children of both Belize and Milwaukee look forward to hearing about Pat's further adventures in Milwaukee.

Gay Reinartz, Ph.D.

Gay Reinartz, Ph.D.

Opening Ceremony

Bonobo and Congo Biodiversity Initiative

Dr. Gay Edwards Reinartz is an internationally recognized conservation biologist with more than 23 years experience in developing and directing conservation and research programs for the bonobo. This endangered great ape is found in the wild only in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She serves as director of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s Bonobo and Congo Biodiversity Initiative (BCBI) as well as conservation coordinator for the Society. Reinartz is also coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Bonobo Species Survival Plan. She spends six months a year in the DRC conducting field research and working with Congolese wildlife officials to protect bonobos and forest elephants in Salonga National Park, a park more than three times the size of Yellowstone. Her activities in the Salonga include the training of park guards in wildlife bio-monitoring techniques, establishment and support of anti-poaching patrols, and development of numerous educational and agricultural programs for people in nearby villages. To support the BCBI, Dr. Reinartz receives grants and awards from the World Wildlife Fund; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the African Great Ape Program; and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

John Scheels, D.D.S.John Scheels, D.D.S.

Dessert Speaker

Zoo Dentistry

On most weekdays, Dr. John Scheels is a dentist who treats adults and children at his practice in Wauwatosa, Wis. But on some Thursday mornings and some Saturdays, he’s the dentist for hundreds of animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo, where he performs root canals on polar bears, pulls infected teeth from lions, and mends broken beaks of exotic birds. Scheels is a leader in the small and highly specialized field of veterinary dentistry. He’s an internationally known speaker on zoo dentistry who publishes articles and sits on the review board for the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry. In 1986 Dr. Scheels and the Zoo’s Dr. Bruce Beehler organized and co-chaired the first International Zoo/Exotic Animal Dentistry Conference, held in Milwaukee. That meeting helped establish a network of dentists working on zoo animals and became a valuable resource for veterinarians. Dr. Scheels also created the veterinary dentistry program for the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Scheels has been featured in several magazine articles and gives presentations to audiences ranging from children and teachers to dentists and veterinarians. He will delight the AZADV audience with his most dramatic dental encounters. His enthusiasm for finding innovative solutions to problems with animal teeth – from sheep and camels to warthogs and giant pandas – is infectious.