September 15, 2012


 Opening session features message of conservation

Posted Sept. 5, 2012
A menagerie of exotic animals accompanied keynote speaker Joan Embery, an advocate of wildlife conservation, as she helped to kick off the AVMA Annual Convention during the Aug. 3 opening session.

The session also featured music, comedy, and awards. Hill’s Pet Nutrition sponsored the event.

The show started with a rousing performance by a crew of drummers. Emcee Jay Thomas, who appeared in “Cheers” and “Murphy Brown,” warmed up the crowd with jokes.

The event included recognition of a number of individuals. Dr. René A. Carlson, 2011-2012 AVMA president, spoke about convention events and Association initiatives.

Then, Embery took the stage with a toucan on her shoulder. She discussed her experiences with wildlife conservation while presenting a series of exotic animals.

Joan Embery, an advocate of wildlife conservation, was the keynote speaker for the opening session of the AVMA Annual Convention. Here, she feeds the warthog that she is raising as an ambassador for the species. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Embery said she was before her time as a woman who wanted to be a veterinarian. So she went to work at the San Diego Zoo. Her position led to guest spots with exotic animals on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and similar media appearances to educate the public about wildlife.

Today, Embery works with a variety of organizations to promote conservation. She raises exotic animals to be comfortable with humans so that they can serve as ambassadors for their species. Animal handlers brought out the warthog and kangaroo that she currently is raising.

Handlers also brought out an aardvark, African crested porcupine, lemur, sloth, rainbow boa, scarlet macaw, and Burmese python while Embery spoke about those animals specifically and about various conservation efforts.
A California condor demonstrated its 10-foot wingspan while Embery discussed the work of the San Diego Zoo to rescue the species from extinction.

The finale was a cheetah and dog duo. The cheetah and dog grew up together, with the dog helping keep the cheetah calm as an animal ambassador to humans. They have been together for more than a decade.

Embery encouraged veterinarians to promote conservation. She said, “Veterinary medicine is going to be critically important in maintaining healthy environments and healthy populations of animals.”