Past Gorilla Doctors

Dr. Dawn Zimmerman

Dr. Zimmerman managed Gorilla Doctors’ Africa programs from our regional base in Musanze, Rwanda from November 2011 to December 2013. During her tenure, she lead countless medical interventions and supervised the medical care of 3 rescued orphans: Grauer’s gorillas Baraka and Isangi, and mountain gorilla Matabishi.


Dr. Jan Ramer

Dr. Ramer served as the regional veterinary manger from 2009 - 2011. She led dozens of health interventions, oversaw the treatment of 7 new gorilla orphans, and helped facilitate the move of 8 gorilla orphans from Rwanda to DRC. Dr. Ramer returned to the Indianapolis Zoo as an associate veterinarian until Dec. 2013 when she came back to Africa as the RVM once again.

Dr. Magdalena Braum

Dr. Braum volunteered for Gorilla Doctors in 2002 and returned from 2008 to 2011 as regional field veterinarian. She performed interventions on sick and injured gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC, helped care for orphan gorillas, and also helped support Gorilla Doctors’ domestic animal health work.

Dr. Lucy Spelman

Dr. Spelman worked for Gorilla Doctors from 2006 to 2009 as regional veterinary manager. She expanded the Gorilla Doctors team, established in-country administrative procedures, and collected important data on respiratory disease outbreaks in mountain gorillas. She is now writing, teaching biology, and working part-time as a clinical veterinarian.

Dr. David Gardener

From 2006 to 2007, Dr. Gardner worked as Gorilla Doctors’ regional field veterinarian, responding to emergency cases in all three countries, training other staff members, and organizing the Gorilla Conservation Employee Health Program. Now based in based in South Lanarkshire in Scotland, Dr. David works as a partner at the ARMAC Veterinary Group.

Dr. Felicia Nutter

From 2002 to 2006 Dr. Nutter served as a regional field veterinarian responsible the project’s regional management. She oversaw the domestic animal health and research programs, co-founded the orphan care program with Dr. Whittier, and helped start the employee health program. Currently, she is the Senior Technical Officer for the USAID RESPOND Project and a research professor at Tuft’s Veterinary School.

Dr. Chris Whittier

Dr. Whittier worked with Gorilla Doctors from 2001 to 2006, becoming regional field veterinarian in 2003. Dr. Whittier, along with his wife, Dr. Nutter, greatly expanded the program, notably hiring four new African veterinarians, guiding Gorilla Doctors’s gorilla orphan care program, and establishing a health program for Grauer’s gorillas. He’s now a Veterinary Medical Officer and PREDICT Global Coordinator for the Smithsonian Institution.

Dr. Innocent Rwego

Dr. Rwego worked as a regional field veterinarian between 2001 and 2005. Now based in Kampala, Uganda, he works as a technical advisor for the East Congo Basin USAID RESPOND project and is a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences, Makerere University and an adjunct at School of Public Health and College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.

Dr. Ken Cameron

Dr. Cameron worked as field director from 1997 to 1999, providing urgent health care and conducting important gorilla health research. He returned to Rwanda from 2005 to 2007 as part-time field veterinarian. He is now a field veterinarian for the Wildlife Conservation Society and coordinates its activities in the Republic of Congo. He is also a Gorilla Doctors Science Advisor.

Dr. Antoine Mudakikwa

Dr. Mudakikwa served Gorilla Doctors as regional field veterinarian from 1995 to 2003. Gorilla Doctors continues to work closely with Dr. Mudakikwa, who is now head veterinarian for the Rwanda Development Board, which manages Rwanda’s national parks and wildlife. He is also a Gorilla Doctors Science Advisor.

Dr. Jonathan Sleeman

Dr. Sleeman worked for Gorilla Doctors from 1995 to 1998, first as field director and then as interim project director after Dr. Foster passed away. Dr. Sleeman now directs the National Wildlife Health Center of the U.S. Geological Survey and teaches at the veterinary colleges of the University of Tennessee, and Virginia Polytechnic University.

Dr. John & Margaret Cooper

From 1993 to 1995, Dr. Cooper served as director of the VVC while Mrs. Cooper oversaw the project’s accounts and management. The 1994 genocide forced the couple to flee, but they returned two months later. Now based in the UK, Dr. Cooper works as a veterinary pathologist while Mrs. Cooper specializes in animal and conservation law. They continue their work with wildlife, domesticated animals and rural communities in East Africa.

Dr. Rob Hilsenroth

From 1992 to 2004, Dr. Hilsenroth was executive director of the Morris Animal Foundation, Gorilla Doctors’ founding organization, and still serves on the Gorilla Doctors board today. Dr. Hilsenroth helped manage the organization in the U.S. and oversaw MGVP’s budgeting and fundraising. Today, he is the Executive Director of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

Dr. Mel Richardson

Dr. Richardson worked as a project veterinarian for seven months in 1992 and 1993 until he was evacuated due to the turmoil that preceded the 1994 genocide. Despite being in the region during a very dangerous time, he was able to perform several interventions to treat injured mountain gorillas. He currently works as a captive wild animal veterinary consultant.

Dr. Liz Macfie

Dr. Macfie served as director of the VVC in Rwanda from 1989 to 1992. In May 2011 she joined the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Species Program in Nairobi, Kenya, working as their Gorilla Coordinator.

Dr. Suzanne Anderson

Dr. Suzanne worked as director of the VVC from 1988 to 1989. In addition to performing gorilla health monitoring and interventions, Dr. Anderson worked with the Volcanoes National Park staff to develop preventative health measures for personnel and tourists. She now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, and works in companion animal medicine and veterinary acupuncture.


Dr. James Foster

Dr. Foster was the first Gorilla Doctor, serving as program director from 1986 until his death in Rwanda in 1997. He spent two years in Kinigi, Rwanda, building the Virunga Veterinary Clinic (VVC), and then returned to the U.S. where he divided his time between working in Rwanda and administering the project from his home in Washington state. Thanks to Dr. Foster’s leadership and advocacy, the project survived Rwanda’s conflict years during the 1990s.



Other Veterinarians

Barclay Hastings 1988

Ute Eilenberger 2000

Jo Ann Garbe 2001