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Dr. Bill Van Bonn stands in front of Shedd's historic bronze doors. He is wearing a lightly check-patterned suit jacket over a blue shirt and turquoise tie, and narrow, silver-framed glasses.

Dr. Bill Van Bonn

Vice President, Animal Health

Dr. Bill Van Bonn oversees veterinary care for Shedd’s animals, emphasizing preventive care, cutting-edge techniques and state-of-the-art equipment.

“My work, whether in the animal hospital or at "habitat calls," is incredibly exciting, and I am proud to be part of the scientific team that is advancing our understanding of the aquatic animal world.”

With more than 30 years of clinical veterinary experience, Dr. Bill Van Bonn strengthens the aquarium’s established animal care and health expertise, overseeing its diverse aquatic medicine initiatives as well as furthering innovative veterinary science. Dr. Van Bonn specializes in preventive medicine and enhanced clinical veterinary services for aquatic animals, with a focus on marine mammals. He works with Shedd’s animal health team to incorporate cutting-edge techniques and state-of-the-art equipment that provide a holistic approach to care for Shedd’s 32,000 animal residents.

In addition to providing top-quality care to animals at Shedd, Dr. Van Bonn has applied his expertise in animal health to saving their counterparts in the wild. In his rehabilitation work at the aquarium, Dr. Van Bonn capitalizes on the vast experience he gained as director of veterinary services at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif., where he treated and rehabilitated more than 1,000 rescued marine mammals each year, including sea otters, seals and sea lions. While at TMMC, he was directly involved in the medical care of Cruz, a California sea lion pup blinded by gunshots, rescued from a California beach, and given a permanent home at Shedd in 2012.

Dr. Van Bonn is a past president of the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine. He is a founding member of the American Association of Human Animal Bond Veterinarians and a past invited member of the World Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Association’s Ethics and Governance Committee. He has authored numerous scientific articles and abstracts, and contributed chapters to several books throughout his career. His most recently published paper in the journal Science analyzes the effects of algal neurotoxins on the spacial memory of sea lions. Dr. Van Bonn has adjunct assistant clinical professor status at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as an adjunct faculty appointment at Michigan State University, a position that provides him access to the High Performance Computing Center, which will aid Shedd Aquarium’s analysis of microbiome data.


Environmental Sources of Bacteria Differentially Influence Host-Associated Microbial Dynamics.

Cesar Cardona, Simon Lax, Peter Larsen, Brent Stephens, Jarrad Hampton-Marcell, Christian F. Edwardson, Chris Henry, Bill Van Bonn, Jack A. Gilbert. mSystems 2018 3(3).

Immunomediator expression profiling in two beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) clinical cases.

Amelia R. Hofstetter, William Van Bonn, Randy E. Sacco. The Journal of Immunology May 1, 2018, 200 (1 Supplement) 59.6

Aquarium Viromes: Viromes of Human-Managed Aquatic Systems.

Kim Yiseul, William Van Bonn, Tiong G. Aw, and Joan B. Rose, Frontiers in microbiology 2017 8:1231.

Drivers of Microbial Community Dynamics in a Managed Artificial Seawater System.

Christian F. Edwardson, Frank Oliaro, Allen La Pointe, William Van Bonn, Angela Kent. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Annual Conference 2018, abstract accepted 2017.

Aquarium microbiome response to ninety-percent system water change: Clues to microbiome management.

William Van Bonn, Allen LaPointe, Sean M. Gibbons, Angel Frazier, Jarrad Hampton-Marcell, and Jack Gilbert, Zoo Biology 2015 34: 360–367.

Evaluation of Health Parameters in Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera Bonasus) Housed in a Seasonal Touch Pool Habitat Compared with an Off-Exhibit Habitat.

James G. Johnson III, Lisa M. Naples, William G. Van Bonn, Angela D. Kent, Mark A. Mitchell, and Matthew C. Allender, Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 2017 48(4):954-960.