From the cows that provide the milk for a bowl of cereal to puppies chasing balls in the yard, the connections humans have with animals are vast. That special relationship is explored in a huge mobile exhibit from the Smithsonian called “Animal Connections: Our Journey Together,” which will be featured at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, at the International Mall, north of Edmon Low Library.
Admission is free to the custom-built, 1,000 square foot exhibit, which is supported by an 18-wheel truck. For the safety of animals and people, visitors are asked not to bring pets.
“The affection that people everywhere have for animals sparked our enthusiasm for an exhibit about veterinary medicine that would inspire lively conversations about the human–animal bond,” said Myriam Springuel, interim director of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).
“Animal Connections” was created by SITES to mark the 150th anniversary of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2013. The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of founding sponsor Zoetis, Inc., and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AMFV).
“Of the more than 74 million American households that include pets, nearly two-thirds consider their pets family members,” said Dr. Clark Fobian, president of the AVMA. “The deep connection Americans have with animals and the pivotal role veterinarians play in that relationship are wonderful and worthy of celebration.”
Divided into five sections, the exhibition focuses on animals in the home, on the farm, at the zoo, in the wild and at the veterinary clinic. Visitors are offered a variety of ways to learn through informative displays, dynamic videos and interactive experiences. In the home section, visitors will learn how to select the right pet and the possible dangers to pets, such as household items like plants and holiday decorations and giving them food prepared for family members. A display in the farm section highlights the mobile clinics that large-animal veterinarians stock with a variety of tools—from dental mirrors to cow magnets—to ensure they are prepared for any procedure. A virtual clinic at the center of the exhibition provides visitors the opportunity to play veterinarian. Through touch screens, they can examine and diagnose what ails their virtual patients—a dog, a piglet and a cheetah.
“At Zoetis, we work every day to better understand and address the real-world challenges faced by those who raise and care for animals,” said Christine Jenkins, Chief Veterinary Medical Officer-U.S. Zoetis, a company that discovers, develops and manufactures veterinary vaccines and medicines. “As part of our commitment to veterinarians, we are proud to join with the Smithsonian and the AVMA in supporting ‘Animal Connections’ as a means to inspire young people to pursue careers in veterinary medicine and its allied professions.”
The free exhibition explores the shared responsibility for animals’ health and well-being. It also highlights the varied roles veterinarians play in the health of animals. Videos showcase that even suburban areas have a great diversity of wildlife—from the squirrels trying to break into a birdfeeder to a bear lounging in a hammock.
“At the AVMF, we are committed to advancing the well-being and medical care of animals,” said Michael Cathey, AVMF executive director. “This exhibition will not only help inspire the next generation of veterinarians, but improve current animal care through a better understanding of the role animals and veterinarians play in our lives.”
Visitors to “Animal Connections” can continue the learning experience online at animalconnections.com. The site includes resources on animal care and careers in veterinary medicine.