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Ed Ramsay: Zoo Vet, Farmer, Spanish Learner

Ramsay at work, with a client.

At UT: Ed Ramsay, who has worked at UT for 25 years, is a professor of zoological medicine in UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine. When he’s on clinic duty, Ramsay works in the UT veterinary clinic, “sticking needles in things and taking X-rays.” When off clinic duty, he conducts research, works on curriculum issues, and continues to check in with his two primary clients: Zoo Knoxville and Tiger Haven, a big cat sanctuary in Kingston, Tennessee.

Every work day is different for Ramsay, but one constant is his role in overseeing students, interns, and residents, whether in the clinic or in the classroom. Some of his favorite UT memories have been working with his residents, many of whom have gone on to work in prestigious zoological medicine programs across the country.

Ramsay with a piglet.

Ramsay with a piglet.

Why veterinary medicine? Ramsay has wanted to work with animals since he was a child. As an undergraduate at San Jose State University, he majored in zoology and worked as a zookeeper. “As I was beginning to look at the next step in my career, I kind of started asking questions and at some point just realized all my questions directed me to veterinary school,” he said. “There was a natural progression about it.”

After attending veterinary school at the University of California, Davis, Ramsay worked for several private practices in California before taking a job as a staff veterinarian at the Oklahoma City Zoo, where he worked for five years. He then accepted a research position at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, and later spent a year in Indonesia working with rhinos. After that, he worked as a clinical instructor at his alma mater, UC Davis, before joining UT’s faculty in 1991.

Ramsay with the pigs on his farm. The pig in the foreground in Homer.

Ramsay with the pigs on his farm. The pig in the foreground is Homer.

Outside interests: Ramsay’s affection for animals goes past his job: he and his family live on 10 acres and have a pig, 17 sheep, eight goats, several alpacas, and countless chickens. “Fixing up my farm is my hobby and passion as of late,” he said.

He enjoys reading and said Cannery Row by John Steinbeck is his favorite novel, although he finds Somerset Maugham’s short stories about Southeast Asia interesting too.

Ramsay has been teaching himself Spanish for about a year now. “I’m not sure I’ve progressed much,” he said, laughing. “I am trying, though.”

Favorite critters: As a vet, Ramsay has worked with many different animals over the years but his favorites include elephants, rhinos, and tigers.

If I didn’t do this, I’d: “Definitely still work with animals, either conducting reproductive research—that was the goal if veterinary school hadn’t worked out—or farming full time, or maybe just volunteering with an animal cause.”

One last thing: If he won the lottery, Ramsay would rent a car and travel across the country and into Canada and Mexico. “I’m a road trip kind of guy,” he said. “A full tank of gas and a little camper is about as good as it gets.”

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