Central Florida Zoo vets threaten to walk off job



SANFORD, Fla. - The Central Florida Zoo in Sanford could soon have no veterinarians to treat nearly 400 animals.

One vet made some strong allegations against the zoo including that officials mistreat the animals.

The zoo has one week to find new veterinarians.

The allegations came from a letter obtained from the University of Florida's veterinarian school.

Officials at the zoo said they didn't see it coming and said they're surprised the veterinarians want to call it quits.

A team of veterinarians from the school say new management has created a hostile work environment and that the zoo's practices on how it cares for animals are substandard.

They've been treating the animals since 1998 but say recently the zoo failed to report sick animals and that they've noticed an increase in animal contact with the public.

Eyewitness News checked with the association of zoos and aquariums and found that Central Florida Zoo's accreditation is still valid.

In a statement, zoo officials said they had no idea the doctors had any concerns and are planning a face-to-face meeting Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the college said the veterinarians intend to walk after the zoo finds replacements.

The veterinarians also claim that the way the zoo cares for its animals isn't up to federal standards.


Statement from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine:

"We have had a working relationship with Central Florida Zoo since 1988. Members of our zoological medicine service, which provides care to exotic animals and wildlife as part of the UF Veterinary Hospitals, travel to the zoo every other week to provide veterinary care to animals in need of our expertise.

"In addition, veterinary students on their zoological medicine rotations benefit from being able to see animals they might not otherwise encounter at the UF Veterinary Hospitals.

"However, we recently notified the zoo of our intent to discontinue services because of concerns about various aspects of veterinary care practices and care management at the zoo. We look forward to speaking with the zoo director about these concerns at a meeting scheduled for Sept. 11.

"In the meantime, UF will continue to provide care for the zoo’s animals while alternative veterinary services are arranged."


Zoo's Response:

"After 20 years in partnership with the University of Florida College Of Veterinary Medicine, we are more than surprised to learn of their concerns, and even more of their interest in severing their relationship with us. This is the first time UF veterinarians have contacted us regarding the care of our animals. 

"The health and well-being of our animals has always been our priority and we remain fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and through inspections by the USDA. We look forward to discussing this issue further with the University of Florida on September 11."