Leader of the Pack: Senior Staff Vet, Dr. Christy Rettenmund

Posted Date

April 3, 2023


In The News

The Milwaukee County Zoo (MCZ) recently promoted Christy Rettenmund, DVM, Dipl. ACZM to the position of senior staff veterinarian — and we’re thrilled to share more about her and her tireless efforts working on behalf of the animals!

A bit of background:

  • Dr. Christy oversees the Zoo’s Animal Health Center (AHC) staff, as well as expenses at the AHC. She provides veterinary oversight for the Zoo’s vast population of more than 2,100 animals, including not just preventive veterinary care but also treatment, nutrition, animal transfers, enrichment, and animal training.
  • She also mentors the Zoo’s veterinary student externs and oversees a collaborative veterinary residency program with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and the International Crane Foundation.
  • Dr. Christy previously held the role of the Zoo’s staff veterinarian for more than four years.
  • During her time at MCZ, Dr. Christy has participated in Baird’s tapir research in Belize to monitor movement patterns of wild tapirs and collect samples for health assessment.
  • Before coming to Milwaukee, she worked as an associate veterinarian at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and completed a three-year zoological medicine residency at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, N.Y.
  • Dr. Christy received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and went on to become a diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine, publishing over 15 peer-reviewed publications.


Ultimately, Dr. Christy is quite busy leading the Zoo’s team of dedicated animal care professionals. Let’s get to know her!


What aspects of your new role do you most enjoy — and why?
My favorite part is getting to work with a wide variety of species and providing them with high-quality veterinary care. I also really enjoy mentoring the zoological medicine residents and collaborating with other veterinarians and specialists about complex cases.

What would you consider the most difficult part of your job?
Sadly, we’re not always successful at treating — or saving — every animal that’s sick.

What inspired you to become a veterinarian?
I’ve always enjoyed working with animals and wanted to be a veterinarian from a young age. And when I was a little older, the James Herriot books really inspired me. (James Herriot was widely considered “the world’s most beloved animal doctor.”)

What are some of the more interesting cases that you’ve worked on?
Most recently, we’ve had some intriguing cases with our bonobos. Qasai was treated for a brain abscess, Noki had a benign bony tumor removed from his skull, and Pabu was maintained on a ventilator for several days to manage his respiratory disease.

What are some of your favorite memories from your time as a veterinarian so far?
I really enjoy spending time doing field work. I’ve had the opportunity to work with loons, pelicans, black bears, and Baird’s tapirs in the field. All those experiences were exciting and a nice change from my everyday work.

What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a veterinarian at a zoo?
Don’t give up. It’s a very long, hard road with a lot of training to become a zoo veterinarian — but it’s worth it!

Do you have a favorite animal at the Zoo?
Caribou are my favorite animals here.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy rock climbing, kickboxing, and reading.


Thank you for chatting with us, Dr. Christy, and thank you for all that you do for the animals here at the Zoo!


For faster entry: Members and pre-ticketed guests, park at West End (enter at 106th St).