W.A.Z.E. (Wildlife, Aquatics, Zoo, Exotics) is the largest student organization on the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine campus whose aim is to promote veterinary education in the field of exotic and aquatic animals, wildlife husbandry, conservation, pathology, therapeutics, and surgery. This is a rapidly expanding field that can only be covered briefly in the Tufts curriculum. The society exists to present more in-depth research and current knowledge through a variety of lunchtime lectures, workshops, field trips and rounds throughout the year. Furthermore, WAZE offers continuing education credit to technicians and professionals.
The 2011 WAZE Symposium Keynote Lecture, given by Dr. Richard Kock, is dedicated to Dr. Annelisa Kilbourn. Her work in wildlife conservation was considered groundbreaking by many and we are proud to have had her as a member of the Tufts’ family.
Annelisa Marcelle Kilbourn was born in Zurich Switzerland on June 27th, 1967. She spent much of her early family life in Europe, settling in Norwalk, Connecticut to attend high school. She was awarded a bachelors degree in ecology and biology from the University of Connecticut in 1990. During college she spent much of her time pursuing her broad interests: working in a local nature center and veterinary clinic, obtaining a black belt in Tai Kwon Do, train to be a pilot, and developing her remarkable artistic talent.
Annelisa joined the Tufts community as a first year veterinary student in the fall of 1992. She brought with her a life already filled with animals and an unparalleled compassion and empathy for living creatures of all kinds. At Tufts, she developed and pursued her dream of improving the lives the animals and people that she felt needed help the most. As a student she followed every opportunity to maximize her training across the spectrum of veterinary medicine to ultimately prepare herself for her future as a veterinarian in conservation. During her first summer, she received an NIH Training grant to study diseases of lemurs in Madagascar. Her second summer she went to South Africa and collected samples from rhino and wild dogs, returning to the laboratory at Tufts to validate a technique for determining genetic diversity from fecal DNA.
After graduation Annelisa was hired by the Wildlife Conservation Society on a Wildlife Health Fellowship to investigate the health of free-ranging orangutans in Sabah, Malaysia. From 1998-2000 she returned to the US to do an internship at the Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. She returned to work with Wildlife Conservation Society on gorillas in Central Africa and also assisted a project with SOSRhino to save the few remaining rhinos is Borneo. Both these efforts will have lasting effects on the survival of these incredible creatures for years to come.
Annelisa died at age 35, pursing her work in Gabon studying a fragile gorilla population impacted by recent Ebola virus outbreaks. She was pursuing her dream.