Rob Coke — Veterinarian

San Antonio, Texas

Innovation is the trademark for Dr. Rob L. Coke, San Antonio Zoo Director of Veterinary Care. A 1996 Texas A&M University graduate, he leads an 18-person team at the 501c3 non-profit zoo, which had to make fundamental changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His work is critical in the Species Survival Plan Program and, specifically, in the lives of Komodo dragons. He serves as a veterinary advisor to the Komodo dragon SSP, in which he aids other zoos with Komodo dragon medical consulting. Locally he has been using new techniques to treat the zoo’s 27-year-old dragon, Bubba. Bubba has severe degenerative joint disease in his elbows and knees. At the beginning of treatment, he could not walk very well, but after several months of weekly therapy, he has been able to walk much better and increase his appetite. During the recent winter storm, the worst to hit San Antonio in four decades, Dr. Coke’s steadfast attitude, unwavering commitment, and leadership were instrumental in ensuring the zoo’s animals were safely cared for in record-setting temperatures. In total, the zoo’s herculean effort resulted in 14 crocodilians, more than 50 turtles, three giant Thai catfish, and 300 birds moved and temporarily rehomed. His team also answered the call when a local animal sanctuary suffered a devastating crisis and is responsible for saving many primates and other animals’ lives. Dr. Coke has been with the zoo since 2002 and is an incredibly deserving recipient of the veterinary hero award.