Lauren Howard, DVM, Dipl. ACZM

Director of Veterinary Services, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Dr. Lauren Howard serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as Director of Veterinary Services at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. She heads a department of approximately 30 professionals in wildlife health, including staff veterinarians, two veterinary training positions, registered veterinary technicians, a veterinary assistant, wildlife care specialists, pathology drivers, a wildlife health registrar, and an administrative team. Dr. Howard’s primary responsibilities are working with her team to provide high-quality care for our wildlife at the Safari Park and throughout our conservation programs, and building and maintaining connections within and outside our organization to advance the SDZWA mission, ensuring all life thrives.

Dr. Howard received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Miami (Florida), and a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 2000. She completed an internship in domestic animal medicine and surgery at the Oradell Animal Hospital in New Jersey, and residency through the joint Zoological Medicine Residency Program at the University of California, Davis, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and SeaWorld San Diego. Dr. Howard became a board certified specialist in zoological medicine in 2005, through the American College of Zoological Medicine. 

She served as a clinical veterinarian at the Houston Zoo from 2005 until 2016, caring for a diverse zoological collection of reptiles, birds, and mammals. While at Houston, she led the Houston toad recovery program, and built a strong collaboration between the Houston Zoo and Baylor College of Medicine to better understand elephant herpesvirus. In 2016, Dr. Howard returned to San Diego to lead the department of Veterinary Services at the Safari Park. 

Career highlights include Dr. Howard’s global work on EEHV, including securing two federal IMLS grants to support EEHV research and establishing worldwide connections to combat this disease, contributing to the in situ recovery of the Houston toad, serving on the Executive Committee of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, working with zoological medicine residents to develop the next generation of zoo veterinarians, leading the health team through the world’s first detection of SARS CoV 2 in gorillas, and working closely with SDZWA’s conservation science team on rhino conservation and stewardship of local wildlife.