From the cows that provide a glass of cold milk to enjoy with a chocolate chip cookie to the deer nibbling on a shrub in the park, from sea lions working with their trainers at the zoo to puppies chasing balls in the yard, the connections humans have with animals are vast. Now the human-animal bond and the role veterinary professionals take in protecting animal and human health are the focus of a mobile museum exhibit, Animal Connections: Our Journey Together. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Zoetis. Animal Connections made its debut in Chicago, Illinois, with a special exhibition at the AVMA Convention July 20-22 to mark the Association’s 150th anniversary. It continued on a tour of Chicago area parks and will travel to the New York/ New Jersey area and to Washington, D.C. later in 2013.

“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 Clint Lewis, executive vice-president of U.S. business at Zoetis “We are proud to join with the Smithsonian and the AVMA as part of our commitment to veterinarians. This exhibit will not only shed light on the many connections humans and animals share, but will bring the importance of veterinary medicine to life. We hope Animal Connections will inspire young people to pursue careers in veterinary medicine and its allied professions.”

Animal Connections visitors experience five main sections that demonstrate the many ways in which humans benefit from enduring bonds with the animal kingdom – whether they are with pets in the home, livestock on the farm or animals in the wild. In the home section, visitors learn how to select the right pet and possible dangers to pets, such as household items like plants and holiday decorations. A three-dimensional display in the farm section highlights the mobile clinics that large-animal veterinarians stock with tools of the trade, and aspiring veterinarians get a chance to be the vet in a virtual clinic. Using touch screens, they examine what ails their virtual patients – a dog, a piglet and a cheetah.

“Veterinarians play a vital and multidimensional role in society.  Some veterinarians may be familiar to pet owners, but veterinarians also perform work in research to better understand animal health. Other veterinarians work side-by-side with farmers to help ensure a wholesome supply of meat, dairy, and poultry. And zoo veterinarians are essential to animal conservation,” said President of the AVMA, Dr. Clark Fobian. “We appreciate Zoetis’s support for this exhibit, and more broadly, to help advance the veterinary profession and continuing education.”

SITES board member, James Vella of the Ford Motor Company Foundation, said, “The Smithsonian has long wanted to create an exhibit on the human-animal bond and the role of veterinary medicine in society. This is an opportunity for SITES to tell the story of animals in our homes, on our farms, in our zoos and in the wild and why it’s important to take care of them and not take them for granted.”