55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

Please note: The Academy will be closing at 3:00 pm on 10/24 (final entry at 2:00 pm). We apologize for any inconvenience.

Parking and traffic in Golden Gate Park will be congested the weekend of Oct. 3–5. Save $3 on Academy admission when you take public transportation.

Freeland Dunker

Freeland is the Veterinarian at the Steinhart Aquarium.


Briefly describe your job and your area of expertise. I provide medical and surgical treatment for sick or injured animals in the collection. Oversees the aquarium’s quarantine program for newly arrived animals into the collection to prevent disease introduction into the resident population. Performs necropsies on deceased animals in the collection to establish a cause of death.  With the information gained from doing this I can assist the curators and biologists with husbandry decisions which can benefit the physical and behavioral health of the collection.  

What got you interested in working at an aquarium? Throughout my veterinary career the interest in comparative anatomy and physiology continued to grow and was a major factor in perusing a job with more animal diversity than just domestic animal species  

What do you like most and least about your job?  What I like most about my job is the variety of daily challenges I’m faced with in order to provide care for the animals in the aquarium’s collection.  What I like least about my job despite my best efforts animals under my care die. 

What college did you go to and what degree did you receive?  I received my BS degree in Biology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA. and my DVM degree at UC Davis Veterinary School, Davis, CA

What influenced your job choice and when?  My initial career goal when starting at Cal Poly was to be a Forest ranger or Wildlife Biologist.  I enjoyed and did well in the biology and animal physiology classes I took, and after my second year of school I started thinking about Veterinary Medicine as a career.  In my junior year I switched my major from Natural Resources Management to Biology, completed my pre-veterinary requirements and applied for Veterinary School at UC Davis.

Do you have pets at home? What and how many? Yes- two dogs, two cats, one tarantula, and one large spurred tortoise that lives in the backyard

Advice for someone wanting to go into your field. Do well academically in college and in your pre-veterinary requirements, get experience working in the veterinary field to see if it is a job that you might enjoy.  Once you have that DVM degree all sorts of job opportunities can open up like to one I have at the California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium.

More about Freeland


Selected Articles and Publications

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Freeland’s Suggested Reading:

“Fish Medicine” by Micheal Stoskoff, 1993 (Saunders publishing)

“Anaesthetic and Sedative Techniques for Aquatic Animals Third Edition” by Lindsay Ross and Barbara Ross, 2008 (Blackwell publishing)

“Fish Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment” by Edward Noga, 1996 ( Mosby publication)

“Clinical Avian Medicine Vols I, II” by Greg Harrison and Teresa Lightfoot, 2006 (SPIX publishing)

“Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry” by Kevin Wright and Brent Whitaker, 2001 (Krieger publishing)

“Reptile Medicine and Surgery” by Doug Mader, 2006 (Saunders publishing)

“Invertebrate Medicine” by Greg Lewbart, 2006 (Blackwell publishing)