News & Press: General

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Monday, January 13, 2020  

"It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire."

It was a long time ago - 40 years actually, and it was not in a Galaxy far far away, but how many of you have actually traveled to Kalamazoo, Michigan. AND NO, it was not civil war, but veterinarians treating birds were dealing with Rebel Starships named Chlamydia and Pacheco's Disease.

If you have not caught on yet, it was 1980 and the Empire Strikes Back premiers as the 2nd Star Wars episode in theaters. Just to bring some realization to how long ago that was, Ronald Reagan won the Presidential Election in America, PAC MAN was introduced to the computer world, Venus Williams was born and John Lennon was killed.

Thanks to Dr. Ronald Spink, a local avian practitioner in Kalamazoo Michigan, Dr. Richard Nye, Dr. Greg Harrison, his wife Linda and a host of others for forming the American Association of Avian Practitioners (soon to become the Association of Avian Veterinarians) and organizing the first conference in June 1980.

The first conference had no mention of Circovirus, DNA probes would be decades away for avian diagnostics, Vitamin A deficiency was a daily diagnosis and imported birds were dying in droves in Quarantine facilities from Salmonella, Pacheco's Virus and Mycobacterial infections. Lafeber Pellets have only been on the market for 7 years, Harrison Bird Diets were still a thought process that had not been finalized yet and Zupreem did not introduce their avian pellets until 1995.

Some of the lecture topics at the first meeting were "Feather and Skin Problems" delivered by Dr. Robert Altman and "Avian Nutrition" delivered by Dr. Greg Harrison. Yes the topics were very broad and basic.

What started as a 6 page In My Experience newsletter became the quarterly peer reviewed Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery.

We had no Luke Skywalker, no Obi Wan Kenobi, but we had brilliant minds with a vision. Our organization was still a fledgling, but had a strong foundation and the right leaders with great Organizational Parenting Skills to lead us to where we are now. Forty years, the passage of the Wild Bird Conservation Act stopped the massive importation of wild birds, Board Certification become a reality, Universities now offer internships and residencies, Research and Conservation contribute to advancing our avian knowledge and Annual Conferences attract over 1000 veterinarians interesting in expanding their avian and exotic animal knowledge.

Dr. Gregory Rich
AAV member since 1985
AAV 40th Year Anniversary Committee Chair 


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