Catherine Lowry Straz Veterinary Hospital

The Catherine Lowry Straz Veterinary Hospital provides medical services for the more than 300 species entrusted in our care and is the only veterinary facility inside a zoo that has been accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. The hospital boasts state-of-the-art equipment, including a surgical room, X-ray area and a laboratory. Led by world-renowned veterinarians, the ZooTampa medical team works to ensure that all of our animals receive the best healthcare. In addition to the manatee rehabilitation work, ZooTampa’s veterinary team also partners with organizations such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to care for and rehabilitate several of Florida’s iconic wildlife species including black bears and Florida panthers.


Dr. Cynthia Stringfield, DVM, Senior VP of Animal Health, Conservation & Education

Dr. Cynthia Stringfield, DVM, Senior VP of Animal Health, Conservation & Education

Dr. Stringfield brings more than 35 years of experience as a medical professional and is a passionate advocate for the care and conservation of animals throughout the world.  Most recently, Dr. Stringfield was a member of the animal health team at the Santa Barbara Zoo and a professor and department chair of the Exotic Animal Training and Management program at Moorpark College. Prior to that, she was a clinical and supervising veterinarian at the Los Angeles Zoo. Additionally, through U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Dr. Stringfield was the California Condor Veterinary Coordinator and Advisor for 17 years and a member of the California Condor Recovery Team during the incredible recovery of this endangered species. Dr. Stringfield also brings extensive big cat experience to ZooTampa, and is very excited to again work with USFWS and be part of the Florida Panther Recovery Program.

Dr. Lauren Smith, Veterinarian

Dr. Lauren Smith, Director of Animal Health

A native of Texas and a child of a military family, Lauren graduated from Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. After earning her veterinary degree, Dr. Lauren spent several years in companion animal practice before being selected for a prestigious internship in aquatic animal medicine at the University of Florida. In that capacity, she worked with a wide variety of species across several facilities throughout Florida.

Following completion of that program, Dr. Lauren returned briefly to private practice and spent time in Alaska before joining the veterinary team in ZooTampa in 2015.

Dr. Lauren has a passion for aquatic animals and is currently the zoo's lead manatee veterinarian, managing all care of these gentle giants.

Dr. Melissa Nau, Staff Veterinarian

Dr. Melissa Nau, Associate Veterinarian

Melissa grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and has had a lifelong passion for zoo and wildlife medicine. After completing her undergraduate degree at Penn State University, she attended veterinary school at the Ohio State University, during which time she participated in various training experiences at zoos across the country. After graduating from OSU in 2013, Melissa went on to complete several specialized training programs in zoo medicine, including internships at SeaWorld San Diego, the National Marine Mammal Foundation, and Kansas State University, as well as fellowships at ZooTampa and the San Diego Zoo. Melissa is enthusiastic about sharing her love for all the creatures in our care (especially rhinos!), and is excited about returning to the team at ZooTampa.