Stories from a 40-year-career veterinarian of small and large animals from home to zoos.
Online PR News – 07-May-2019 – San Diego, CA – A new book recapping a 40-year-career of a large and small animal veterinarian with touching and humorous life experience stories is out today.
Few people can say they have been kicked by an elephant and lived to tell the tale. But veterinarian Dr. Mark Goldstein, a former Los Angeles and Boston zoo director and animal welfare advocate now living in San Diego, survived to share that story and many more in his new book, "Lions and Tigers and Hamsters: What Animals Large and Small Taught Me About Life, Love, and Humanity," comes out May 7 as a paperback and Kindle edition. (HCI Books—$14.95).
As a young second-year undergrad at Cornell University, Goldstein got the internship of a lifetime for a veterinarian-in-training at a safari park in Florida. In the haste of youth, Goldstein approached Donia, the matriarch of Elephant Island, and did not follow protocol by letting her smell his feet and then letting her lead. She paid him back for his rude manners by flinging him 30 feet in the air and proceeded to take the common elephant path of killing a predator by holding him on the ground with her head and lifting her hind legs to squash the intruder.
Goldstein was able to roll into a nearby canal populated by alligators before the final crush could happen, and was rescued by park officials. What followed were days in the hospital with two broken bones, an injured neck, a bruised kidney and a footprint from Donia on his back.
"Donia taught me two lessons: never take an animal for granted, and following the rules can have tremendous value," Goldstein says.
That lesson served him well in his 40-year career working in small-animal and wildlife medicine and then as zoo director for the Los Angeles and Boston zoos. He also served as president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA.
In his book, Goldstein shares up-close and personal experiences of taking the rectal temperature of a 6,000-pound unrestrained and unanesthetized rhinoceros; teaching veterinarians how to spay and neuter dogs on a kitchen table during a war drill in the Hula Valley of Israel; and removing a tumor from a beloved goldfish that brought the owner, a child with autism, the calming comfort he needed. He recounts saving the canine mascot of a local order of Catholic nuns; almost coming face-to-face with a Siberian tiger; being responsible for the delivery of a baby lowland gorilla; and wrangling an escaped chimpanzee set loose by an animal rights group.
Goldstein takes the opportunity in his book to discuss commonly asked animal welfare questions:
• What drives the costs of veterinary care? Should homeless people be allowed to have pets?
• Why are antibiotics often ineffective against bacterial infections?
• Why do we have zoological parks and aquariums?
• What is the future for animal welfare?
He also helps the reader understand that euthanasia can be the most selfless act of love provided to a suffering pet.
"It was experiences like these that taught me that I was part of a sacred profession that had the ability to have a positive, meaningful impact on both animals and people," says Goldstein. "I found that people who value and love animals also hold a mutual respect for each other that transcends language barriers, cultural differences, religious beliefs and conflicting political opinions."
Goldstein passionately believes that understanding and protecting the human-animal bond and the responsibilities that come with that is a critical thread in creating the fabric of a healthy society.
Despite his near-brush with death and the inevitable heartache that comes with the job, Goldstein says he wouldn't change a thing if he had the chance to do it over.
"What I would say to someone who may be struggling under the weight of their chosen profession is that you can choose to be taken down by the issues or you can learn to make them a source of strength. From my experience and point of view, I believe that finding and stoking this strength is what enables you to make a positive impact. I can attest that after more than 40 years of having this ability to heal, along with the responsibility to sometimes end a life to allow an animal to cross the rainbow bridge peacefully, I feel blessed," he says.