Holly Richards, DVM
Dr. Richards joined the Ness Exotic Wellness Center team in 2016 with an extensive background in caring for exotic animals.
Having grown up in rural western Michigan, she moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University of Chicago. After graduating, Dr. Richards began her career as a zookeeper and animal trainer at Brookfield Zoo, where she took care of a wide variety of species ranging from prickly stick insects to polar bears. During her 12 years at the zoo, she loved being involved in the behavior and enrichment programs developing ways to encourage natural behaviors and reduce stress in animals.
After the zoo, and before getting her veterinary degree from University of Illinois in 2015, she attended Northwestern University while working at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital as a veterinary technician, and at Northwestern providing enrichment and medical care for lab animals.
While in vet school, Dr. Richards enjoyed volunteering in the university’s busy student-run Wildlife Medical Clinic, and getting dirty helping out with the medical needs at Prairie Fruits Farm, a small goat farm and dairy. She also wrote for the school’s Pet Column and was employed as a radiology technician, where she took x-rays of animals as tiny as goldfish and as huge as camels.
Some of her favorite research experiences involved using a team of turtle search dogs to locate wild box turtles, and studying migratory birds to explore their role in the spread of Lyme disease. Dr. Richards presented her research findings on rabbits suffering from GI stasis at a joint professional conference of the AAZV, AEMV, ARAV and AAV. She also participated in numerous wildlife, zoo and aquatic animal medicine externships including those at the Memphis Zoo, the Carolina Raptor Center in North Carolina, and the California Science Center.
In her free time, Dr. Richards enjoys travelling. She recently visited Roatan, Honduras as part of a World Vets mission team providing free veterinary care and spay/neuter surgeries for the pets of local families.
Dr. Richards loves the challenge of being an exotic animal veterinarian and helping owners understand the special needs of their animals.