Ultrapotent Drug Safety for Zoological Facilities Webinar Recording

Updated 11/22/23

This webinar was presented on September 1st as part of the Topics in Zoo Safety webinar series, a collaborative effort with the AZA Safety Committee.

Ultrapotent opioids, and other nonopioid analgesics commonly used in zoo medicine, have received significant public attention in recent years due to the adverse effects exposure to these drugs can have on human health. Zoo veterinarians rely on drugs like thiafentinil, etorphine, and other concentrated aesthetic drugs to help preserve animal and human welfare when treating their largest patients, so it is critical that any personnel who may be working around these drugs understands how to do so safely. Join us for this webinar, Ultrapotent Drug Safety for Zoological Facilities, to learn more about why these agents are used and how facilities can mitigate risks of exposure. Speakers from the zoo and emergency medical communities will discuss drugs of concern, their potential uses and risk, protocols for administration, response plans for accidental exposure, legal considerations, and more.

Webinar Agenda

Disclaimer:  This webinar is advisory in nature, informational in content, and intended to assist facilities in providing a safe and healthful environment. Considerations therein do not replace or override any applicable federal, state, or local laws, regulations or ordinances. Content may not address all of the safety and husbandry concerns for a specific facility. It is the responsibility of each facility, through the application of technical judgment and experience, to determine the appropriate procedures for that facility.  Views expressed in this webinar are solely those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent.

View Recording


Sathya K. Chinnadurai, DVM, MS, Dipl. AZZM, Dipl. ACVAA, Dipl. ACAW –  Senior Vice President of Animal Health and Welfare, Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo

Dr. Sathya Chinnadurai leads the Animal Health and Welfare group at the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo.  Dr. Chinnadurai obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Missouri, where he also completed a Master’s degree in wildlife sciences. He is a board-certified specialist in both zoological medicine and veterinary anesthesiology, following the completion of successive residency training programs in both fields at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2018, Dr. Chinnadurai completed the requirements to also become a board-certified diplomate of the American College of Animal Welfare. He is an associate editor for the anesthesia section of the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine and is a prolific scientific author. For the past several years Dr. Chinnadurai has also served as a member of the Morris Animal Foundation Wildlife Scientific Advisory Board and the Animal Welfare Committee of the American Veterinary Medical Association, as well as representing the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians on the AVMA House Advisory Panel. He is a prolific researcher, writer, educator, and mentor.

Maria Gallegos – Director, Health Safety & Security, Houston Zoo

Maria Gallegos is the health, safety and security director for the Houston Zoo with more than 30 years of experience in the chemical/refinery industries and zoo/aquarium facilities in Texas.  For the last 5 years, she’s led the Rangers and all zoowide safety drills and emergency training procedures with multiple departments and external agencies. She leads the Houston Zoo Safety Council and is in the process of Zoowide Incident Command System implementation.  Maria is Vice Chair of the AZA Safety Committee and leads the Example Practices Subcommittee

Lars Thestrup, MD, Dipl. ABLM, Board Certified in Emergency Medical Services –  Emergency Physician, St. Joseph Medical Center Houston, TX

Dr. Lars Thestrup was born and raised in Norther Virginia where he attended Mary Washington College for his undergraduate degree. He received his M.D. at the Medical College of Virginia and completed his emergency medicine residency at Johns Hopkins. From there he moved to North Carolina and completed a fellowship focusing on emergency medical services and disaster preparedness at the Carolinas Medical Center. Shortly after the completion of his fellowship he was offered a position with the City of Houston as an Asssistant Medical Director to the Houston Fire Department. His current role involves providing medical care and consultation to the Houston Fire and Police Department while assisting in the coordination of disaster preparedness for the city. He works clinically at St. Joseph Medical Center where he serves as the medical director of the emergency department. His other positions include lead physician for HPD SWAT and medical director for the City of Bellaire Fire Department and Hatzalah. Recently he accepted a position as the medical director for the EMS responders at the Houston Zoo.

Christine Molter, DVM, Dipl. ACZM –  Director of Animal Health, Houston Zoo

Christine Molter, DVM, Dipl. ACZM is the Director of Animal Health at the Houston Zoo. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and completed a residency in Zoological Medicine at UC Davis and San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. She currently leads a large department and with goals of continually improving procedural safety and efficiency. In addition, she is a member of the AZA Animal Welfare Committee, AAZV Ethics and Professional Practice Committee, and the EEHV Advisory Group

Jamie Huber, RVT – Veterinary Hospital Manager,  Louisville Zoo

Jamie Huber is a licensed veterinary technician and the veterinary hospital manager at the Louisville Zoo.  He has been at the Louisville Zoo for 12 years.  Jamie supervises the operations of the zoo’s Animal Hospital, Animal Commissary, and Black-footed ferret Conservation Center.  Additionally, Jamie serves as Treasurer for the Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians and is a member of the AZA Safety Committee.