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Ryan Colburn

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After graduating from Grand Rapids Christian High School, he went on to earn his Bachelor's Degree in Biology from Calvin College before going to Michigan State University where he graduated with his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).  After graduation, he completed a one-year rotating internship at michcigan Veterinary Specialists in Grand Rapids.  He spent one year as an attending Emergency clinician before fully transitiong into the role of full time veterinarian for the John Ball Zoo.

Posts by Ryan Colburn

Unique Cases call for Specialized Testing: Snake Endoscopy

In a recent blog, I shared one of our recent cases involving “Ruby,” one of our Magellanic Penguins who needed some specialized testing. Earlier this Summer, we turned to our friends at Blue Pearl for another case. This one involved a Milksnake who needed an endoscopy. 

ZOO VET CLASS ....for kids!!!

Summer time is an exciting time at the zoo. The animals are finally all back on exhibit after the long winter, the weather is nice, the sun is shining and Zoo Camp is up and running. The JBZ Education team offers a wide variety of opportunities for students of every age during the Summer. 

Unique Cases call for Specialized Testing - Penguin CT Scan

Medicine, both human and veterinary, have come so far over the centuries. Amazing technologies allow for advanced testing that was not available in the past. We are very fortunate at the zoo to have built partnerships with many colleagues to allow us to utilize some of these technologies when we need them.  While we are able to perform a great deal on site at the zoo hospital, specialized equipment is needed for some tests.

Spoon full of sugar? How zoo animals take their medicine!

Mary Poppins sang about how a spoon full of sugar helped the medicine go down, but Mary Poppins never worked at a zoo! Just like people and pets, taking medication is sometimes a challenge for the animals at the zoo and finding the best way to give medication can be an even bigger challenge for zoo veterinarians and zoo keepers.


Keeping your Zoo Healthy: Routine Vaccinations

Veterinary Care at the John Ball Zoo

Ryan Colburn, DVM


If you’re a pet owner, you are very familiar with the importance of vaccinations.  The annual trip to the veterinarian’s office for a routine check up often includes one or more vaccines to keep your pet protected and up to date. 

A Very Special Trip to the Dentist

A Very Special Trip to the Dentist

Even though the zoo has closed for the season, the animal care staff are still very busy caring for all of the zoo residents. In the veterinary department, the last few weeks have been a flurry of activity with a number of routine examinations and procedures to get done. 


“The White Coat Effect”

Does your cat disappear the moment the cat carrier makes an appearance in the house? Does the very idea of a trip to the dentist make you nervous? There is just something about going to the doctor that makes some animals (and people) very nervous.


The term “quarantine” may conjure up images of horror movies or disease outbreaks, but quarantine at the zoo is far from these ominous images. In fact, in some respects, it can be an exciting time for us here at the zoo because we get to welcome a new animal into the collection.


Keeping your Zoo Healthy  

Veterinary Care at the John Ball Zoo   “Preventive Care ~ Annual Exams”


Whether you are taking your kids to the pediatrician, your dog or cat to your family veterinarian, or going to your personal doctor, one of the most important means of staying healthy is regular visits to your doctor for a physical exam. 


Our goal at John Ball Zoo is to provide the best care possible for all of over 1,200 animals.  This care relies on the hard work of many people.  Our keepers are at the center of that care.  They provide nutritious meals, clean exhibits, and many forms of training and enrichment.  They are also an extremely important part of the veterinary medical care for the animals here at the zoo.