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International Veterinary In-Residence (IVIR) Program

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The Marine Mammal Center is currently accepting applications for our 2019 International Veterinary-in-Residence program. Click here to apply.

The International Veterinary in Residence Program offers marine mammal veterinarians from across the globe a unique and rare opportunity to gain experience in marine mammal medicine and rehabilitation.

With a priority on applicants from countries with underdeveloped rehabilitation and conservation initiatives, the program provides the experience that participants need to develop marine conservation efforts in countries that can offer little infrastructure, support or training for marine mammal science, husbandry and conservation.

Residents will gain the experience needed to implement training programs in their home countries, sharing knowledge with other conservationists that will lead to the improvement of the global understanding of the health of marine mammals, the ocean, and by extension, human health.

The Marine Mammal Center is one of the few marine mammal rescue organizations with a well-established teaching and research hospital. Program participants will gain critical animal care skills and knowledge that our acclaimed scientific and veterinary staff has learned from our nearly 40 years of experience caring for 20,000 individual marine mammal patients.

The mission of the IVIR program is to give marine mammal veterinarians the tools they need to develop rescue and rehabilitation programs in countries that lack this expertise.

Residents train for three months (between March-September) at our state-of-the-art animal care hospital in Sausalito, California. The residency will focus on animal rescue, husbandry, medicine and necropsy. Please click here for more information on the application process. The IVIR position is unpaid, but airfare and local housing are paid for by the Center.

A Call to Veterinarians Across the Globe

Reports of marine mammal strandings are increasing in many parts of the world. As sentinels of ocean health, marine mammals call attention to changes in the spread of diseases, ocean pollution and a variety of factors that affect not only ocean health, but human health as well. In many countries, no marine mammal response programs exist, often due to lack of infrastructure and funding. In addition, few opportunities exist to train veterinarians to treat marine mammals. The Marine Mammal Center collaborates with government agencies, non-profits and individuals who are interested in starting or expanding their country’s marine mammal response program.

The IVIR program requires a DVM degree or equivalent. While The Marine Mammal Center accepts applications from veterinarians from all countries and backgrounds, preference will be given to veterinarians that are currently working with wild marine mammals in their country. The mission of the IVIR program is to give marine mammal veterinarians the tools they need to develop rescue and rehabilitation programs in countries that lack this expertise. The most successful residents are hard working, talented and adaptable. They strive to learn about all aspects of a rehabilitation hospital and are prepared to translate this knowledge into solutions for their own coastlines.

A Day in the Life

Residents spend three months at The Marine Mammal Center’s state of the art hospital in Sausalito, California, during the peak of the busy season (March-September). Residents spend several days a week with the Veterinary Science department, treating clinical cases with the veterinarians on staff, and learning medicine, anesthesia and surgery of pinnipeds. During the peak season there may be more than 200 animals on site at the same time. One day a week is spent with the Research department, performing necropsies on animals to determine the cause of their death. One day a week is spent on an animal care crew, where they work alongside our volunteer crews to feed, clean and care for our patients. Our corps of more than 1,100 volunteers provides valuable insight into animal behavior and care. Residents also spend time with the Stranding department, responsible for responding to our 24-hour hotline and rescuing animals.

In addition, IVIRs are encouraged to develop a collaborative research project during their residency to investigate an aspect of marine mammal health that is relevant to both California marine mammal populations and their home country’s populations. Residents will also have the opportunity to publicly present on their project and experience at the end of their residency.

Upon successful completion of the program, residents may be able to publish data in a peer-reviewed journal along with veterinarians and scientists at The Marine Mammal Center, bringing added credibility to their home institution.

The Alumni Perspective

Individuals who complete the IVIR program are prepared to rescue stranded marine mammals, care for them during the rehabilitation process and provide training to staff and volunteers in their home countries. This program provides the unique opportunity to work in a busy hospital that treats an average of 600-800 marine mammals each year, and exposes residents to all aspects of running a successful marine mammal stranding program. Find out where alumni are today, and how the IVIR program has impacted their lives.

How to Apply

Please visit our Application Materials page to learn more.

If you have questions about the IVIR program, please contact Dr. Shawn Johnson at

If you are interested in sponsoring this unique training opportunity, please contact Jennifer Morrow at

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