October 15, 2014


 Exhibition gains momentum

Posted Oct. 1, 2014

A traveling exhibition about the human-animal bond and veterinary medicine has proved to be popular with the public and the profession.

Between the July 20, 2013, launch and Sept. 7, 2014, more than 129,000 people visited “Animal Connections: Our Journey Together” at 41 events in 36 cities in 23 states.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created the exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the AVMA in 2013. “Animal Connections” is made possible through the support of founding sponsor Zoetis Inc., the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, and the AVMA. The AVMF and state VMAs recruit veterinarians to serve as guides to the exhibition.

The 2014 stops have included zoos, museums, expositions, parks, veterinary colleges, veterinary conferences, and county and state fairs. Nearly 6,000 people visited the exhibition at the AVMA Annual Convention in July in Denver. The exhibition attracted almost 14,000 visitors in three days at the Iowa State Fair, about 16,000 visitors in three days at the Wisconsin State Fair, and more than 31,000 visitors in six days at the New York State Fair. 

The “Animal Connections” exhibition travels through Utah in September en route to an event. The exhibition highlights the human-animal bond and veterinary medicine, and attracted more than 129,000 visitors through Sept. 7. (Courtesy of MRA)

“We’re reaching a wide spectrum of visitors, from toddlers to seniors and from farmers to inner-city residents,” said J.B. Hancock, director of the AVMA Communications Division. She said organizers hope to fund the exhibition through 2015.

“‘Animal Connections’ is an opportunity for veterinarians to share their enthusiasm and passion for veterinary medicine with visitors,” said Colleen McClellan, who tours with the exhibition as the Zoetis project manager for “Animal Connections.” “The value of being able to engage in conversations at this level is immeasurable.”

She continued, “It’s wonderful to watch people of all ages gain an appreciation for the human-animal bond.”

One of McClellan’s favorite parts of the exhibition is the module to help visitors find the perfect pet, which suggested that she should own a sporting dog—as she does. Another of her favorites is the virtual veterinary clinic that allows visitors to try out veterinary diagnostics, leading to some “fun” facial expressions.

Veterinarians who would like to volunteer if the exhibition comes to their area should contact Jody Beckford with the AVMF at 847-285-6709, or jbeckford@avma.org.

“The veterinarian volunteers liven the exhibit experience for attendees, from the child who has dreams of becoming a veterinarian to the curious cat lover,” said Michael Cathey, AVMF executive director. “The volunteers give the public an authentic connection and look into the veterinary world.”

Information about “Animal Connections,” including a list of upcoming stops, is available here. The website also provides related resources such as links to AVMA classroom materials about veterinary medicine and a link to the AVMA Animal Hospital video game.


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