OMAHA, Neb. – Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium’s Director of Animal Health, Douglas Armstrong, DVM, was recently awarded with one of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians’ (AAZV) highest honors, the Emil Dolensek Award. Armstrong grew up in Greenfield, where his mother still resides.
According to the AAZV, the Emil Dolensek Award is an honor given to one who has made exceptional contributions to the conservation, care and understanding of zoo and free-ranging wildlife, which reflects Dolensek’s commitment to these purposes. This award recognizes individuals who have advanced the profession and served to link the related disciplines of zoo and wildlife medicine. To receive the award, Armstrong’s nomination had to be approved unanimously by the awards committee of the AAZV.
“It was a surprising and humbling honor to receive this award,” said Armstrong. “I have always admired those who received this award previously and never imagined I might be included among such respected conservationists.”
The award honors Dolensek, a past AAZV president and chief veterinarian of the New York Zoological Society for 20 years. During that time, Dolensek was responsible for the healthcare of the thousands of animals at the Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Zoos and the New York Aquarium. In his lifetime, he made countless contributions to the veterinarian field, including opening a $5 million Animal Medical Center at the Bronx Zoo, which allowed him to improve animal reproduction through sperm banks, embryo transplants and endocrinology.
Armstrong has been with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium for 33 years, holding positions as a senior veterinarian, associate director of medicine and research and his current role as director of animal health. He is a past president of the AAZV. In addition to 34 years of clinical work with endangered species in zoos, Armstrong has worked with captive and free-ranging conservation programs in Asia, Africa, the Mideast and North and South America. Armstrong is the veterinary advisor for the tiger species survival plan.