Dr. Lydia Tong – Veterinary Pathologist
Lydia is Taronga Zoo’s zoo and wildlife pathologist and is responsible for conducting diagnostic surgical pathology and necropsy of any and all animals in Taronga’s care. Lydia trained in veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge and did her post-graduate training in pathology at the University of Sydney. She has a diverse professional background as a clinical vet and pathologist, working with domestic and wild species around the world, including Borneo, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, East Timor, Vanuatu, Tonga, the UK and Australia.
In her role as Taronga’s in-house pathologist Lydia works with a broad range of exotic and native species including wild and captive mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. As part of her role she also provides consulting services for other zoological collections, wildlife sanctuaries, and animal welfare organisations. Lydia has specialist expertise in forensic pathology of animals and regularly performs forensic necropsies of animals or animal remains suspected to be victims of, or otherwise involved in, criminal acts. She managed the first excavation and forensic analysis of a mass grave of any species on Australian soil and has assisted the NSW Coroners office with homicide investigations involving animals. She has been deployed overseas by Taronga to conduct field necropsies on critically endangered megafauna.
She is passionate about pathological and forensic research that leads to positive welfare outcomes. Currently she is part of a Taronga-led team working to develop forensic scientific methods to combat the illegal wildlife trade. Other areas of research include osteopathology and zooarchaeology, pathology of the short-beaked echidna, the pathology and diagnosis of animal abuse, veterinary medical entomology, avian tuberculosis, and the links between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence.
She is currently Secretary of the Australian Society of Veterinary Pathology, and in 2016 she was the inaugural winner of the RSPCA Australia Hugh Wirth Future Leader in Animal Welfare award.