Speaking Topics

Zoobiquity: What the Flamingo’s Heart Attack, the Dolphin’s Diabetes, and the Koala’s Chlamydia mean for Your Health
Developed for general audiences, this image-filled talk begins with the story of Barbara’s experiences consulting with veterinarians on animal patients at the Los Angeles Zoo. Addressing breast cancer in jaguars and beluga whales, eating disorders in pigs and elk, substance abuse in waxwing birds and cocker spaniels, even sexual dysfunction in stallions…this talk draws on the latest in medical and veterinary science—as well as dynamic new findings in evolutionary and molecular biology. In the end it shows how connecting knowledge across disciplines can improve our physical and mental health.

Zoobiquity: Comparative Psychopathology and the Redemption of Evolutionary Psychology
How can we better understand the evolutionary origins of mental illness? The polarizing debate that has surrounded this question too often has centered on brain function in early man.  It is increasingly recognized, however, that the mental processes and behavior of animals from mammals, to birds, to reptiles can become dysregulated. Examples of psychopathology in animals include self-injuring syndromes in mustangs, parrots, and dogs, compulsive grooming in cats, birds, and reptiles, psychogenic sexual dysfunction in stallions, and psychotropic substance seeking behavior in wallabies, waxwing birds, bighorn sheep, and many other animals. This burgeoning awareness of psychopathology in extant animals species offers novel insights into the nature and evolutionary origins of mental health and illness in contemporary humans.

Zoobiquity: How Veterinarians will Change the Future of Human Medicine
This talk, geared toward an audience of health professionals, looks at three examples of how the veterinary approach in animals can offer insights and guidance to physicians challenged by the same issues in human patients. Veterinary insights from the fields of cardiology, fertility, oncology, behavior and many others (dermatology, nutrition, immunology, sports medicine, palliative care, geriatrics, to name but a few), can help physicians confronted with clinical and investigational challenges. This talk challenges health professionals and pre-health students to expand their thinking beyond zoonoses (infectious diseases transmitted by animals) to include species-spanning, interdisciplinary approaches to many sub-specialities including, significantly, psychiatry.