Dr. Lance Adams came to the Aquarium in 2001 with more than a decade of experience working in the tropical fish/aquarium industry. Dr. Adams received special medical training at Sea World in San Diego and the Denver Zoo and has experience in wildlife rehabilitation.
Dr. Adams holds a BS degree in animal science from Cal Poly Pomona and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Kansas State University, where he took special interest courses in exotics and zoo medicine.
Before coming to the Aquarium of the Pacific, Dr. Adams interned at the New England Aquarium in Boston. There he focused on the clinical medicine of various animals, including seals, sea lions, otters, penguins, and more. Previously, he interned at a facility in Los Angeles, focusing on small animal surgery. “I learned basic veterinary medicine first, working with dogs and cats, and then completed further training beyond veterinary school to work in aquatic medicine,” said Dr. Adams.
At the Aquarium of the Pacific he cares for more than 11,000 animals representing 500 species. He has engaged in ground-breaking medical work in aquatic medicine, most notably his procedure to save a sawfish’s rostrum or bill. His work ranges from routine medical exams to major surgeries. He collaborates with a variety of specialists in the veterinary field and even occasionally with local hospitals to use their large diagnostic equipment. In addition to his daily rounds at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Dr. Adams belongs to several professional organizations, including the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine, the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, and the Association of Avian Veterinarians.
“I have always been an avid fish keeper,” he said. “I grew up in Orange County, so I spent a lot of time around the ocean. My career grew out of my love for these things,” said Dr. Adams.
He attributes entering this specialty to his love for marine life. While at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Dr. Adams has the opportunity to work with a large variety of animals from tiny lorikeet birds to giant sharks. “One of the things I enjoy most about this field is working with birds,” he said. “That is one of the highlights of working at the Aquarium. There are so many birds—it’s really challenging,” said Dr. Adams. Another aspect of his career that he enjoys is fish surgery. “It’s a new field and not many people get the opportunity to do it. To anesthetize a fish, perform a surgery, and then see it recover is extremely challenging and rewarding. I am also particularly interested in discovering more about sharks—their physiology and treatments,” he said.
Dr. Adams is quick to point out what he likes best about working at the Aquarium of the Pacific. “I really enjoy working with such an experienced, professional, and friendly staff of aquarists (fish/invertebrate biologists), mammalogists (mammal biologists), and aviculturists (bird biologists).” As for the people who are interested in pursuing a career in this field, Dr. Adam advises, “Define your interests, identify your strengths, set goals to improve your weaknesses, get the education, find a great mentor, be flexible and ready to make sacrifices, and don’t give up!”