||Drs. James F. Peddie and his wife, Linda, with one of the four elephants they assisted in delivering
Courtesy of Kari Johnson
Posted on September 5, 2012
Many know Dr. James F. Peddie for his work with Hollywood animals, but his career has spanned a spectrum of activities.
During the Aug. 3 opening session of the AVMA Annual Convention in San Diego, Dr. Peddie received the AVMA Award for contributions to organized veterinary medicine. He has been treasurer of the AVMA, California delegate to the AVMA, board member and treasurer of the California VMA, and president of the Santa Barbara Ventura VMA. He currently serves as a trustee of the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust and treasurer of the Western Veterinary Conference.
Dr. Peddie and his wife, Linda, graduated from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1965. He served briefly in the Army before they settled in California. Here, he answers some questions about his career.
How did you come to treat exotic species and, eventually, Hollywood animals?
I joined a practice in Thousand Oaks that was truly a practice of all species. Right down the street was a major wildlife importer. There I was, as a brand-new associate, working on baby Asian elephants and baby tigers.
The practice grew from three full-time veterinarians, with my wife working a part-time schedule, to 12 full-time veterinarians when my wife and I sold our interest in the practice and I went to teach at Moorpark College in the Exotic Animal Training and Management program. I had been teaching there part time, and in 1991 became that program’s director.
I had no sooner accepted that job than I got a call from Universal Studios. I had cared for animals in the theme park, and I took on the work of caring for all their animals. Within months, my wife and I were contacted by all of the major studios. We ended up working on a total of 70 feature films.
||Photo by R. Scott Nolen
Why did you become so involved in organized veterinary medicine?
I enjoyed the stimulation of the individuals with whom I worked. I was constantly being challenged in every respect professionally. Your business skills and communication skills were challenged. It was just a very exciting environment.
Why did you retire?
I developed an autoimmune problem, and I went to Alaska to fish for what was to be the trip of a lifetime. When I came home, my wife said, “I called all of our clients, and you’re no longer working.” She was right. With the pressure off and drug therapy, the problem came under control.
I got back involved again with the GHLIT and Western Veterinary Conference. With the GHLIT, one thing I do that is a little unique is I put together a presentation that I took to the student chapters of the AVMA called “The Hollywood Vets.” I tell some funny stories, then I build it around to what I call “bumps in life’s road.” My bump was that autoimmune problem.
You continue to work with elephants. How is that going?
We are fortunate in working with a company called Have Trunk Will Travel that has Asian elephants. We got involved with them when they did the film “Dumbo Drop.” Subsequent to that, because of the high level of training of these animals, we have been able to do multiple drug-absorption studies as well as develop new medication administration techniques. We also have successfully birthed four babies.
The Oct. 1 JAVMA News will feature career highlights
of the recipients of other awards presented
during the AVMA Annual Convention.