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Cummings School Brings on Exotics Expert Dr. Trinita Barboza to the ZCAM Program
From moose to marine animals to pocket pets, Dr. Barboza’s experience spans the zoological gamut
February 3, 2022

Dr. Trinita Barboza, DVM, DVSc, new assistant professor in zoological companion animals at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, found her calling at a young age.

“At seven, I wanted to be a zoologist thinking that was a zoo vet.”

Dr. Barboza grew up and studied in Canada, her family relocating from India when she was five years old. She started down her career path in junior high, volunteering at the Humane Society and at a retirement home, tending to small birds and a bunny that she brought around to visit with the seniors. In high school, she shadowed at zoos and veterinary clinics.

While studying cell and developmental biology at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Dr. Barboza completed a practicum at a mixed animal veterinary practice, working with dairy cows. She received a grant to conduct research with a veterinarian there who specialized in embryo transfer in cows and became a mentor to her.

She took her studies in a new direction while earning her DVM at Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

“I discovered my passion for zoological companion animals, and I had to go into this specialty path,” she said.

After graduating, Dr. Barboza accepted a small animal rotating internship at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Virginia, working with dogs, cats, and exotic animals.

She moved on to a specialty internship in companion exotics, followed by a wildlife internship, at Ontario Veterinary College and the University of Guelph, broadening her experience with pocket pets and gaining medical and surgical skills with the wildlife species of Ontario, including moose, bears, wolves, coyotes, birds, and small mammals.

In a dual program at Ontario Veterinary College and the University of Guelph, Dr. Barboza completed her American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM) companion exotics residency and earned her Doctor of Veterinary Science degree. Her ACZM training included time at the Toronto Zoo, the Aquarium of Quebec, and the Marine Mammal Rescue Center in Vancouver. She researched fatty liver disease in bearded dragons for her thesis.

When she finished the three-year program this past August, Dr. Barboza took a few months to herself—to spend time with family and friends, and prepare for her move to Massachusetts.

I love research, clinical practice, and teaching, and the best place to end up with all those interests is academia,” she said.

Dr. Barboza was impressed by the reputation of the Zoological Companion Animal Service (ZCAM) program at Foster Hospital for Small Animals and joined the faculty at Cummings School in early January as an assistant professor in exotics.

I have a three-part role here that fits all my interests,” she said.

Her primary role at Foster Hospital is mentoring interns, residents, and fourth-year students in zoological companion animal medicine and surgery. “I make sure they get the training they need and provide the best quality of care possible for the animals,” said Dr. Barboza.

She will also give didactic lectures and teach labs in zoological courses for first through third-year veterinary students and plans to continue her research with bearded dragons.

“Week one was good, very busy,” she said. “Starting at a new hospital is a bit of a learning curve, but it’s been great so far. Everyone is very kind, understanding, and helpful.”