By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4)– The Denver Zoo broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art hospital on Wednesday. The hospital will be used to care for the 3,500 animals at the zoo.

An artist’s rendition of the new animal hospital (credit: Denver Zoo)

The hospital will also offer visitors to the zoo a better look at the work the veterinarian team does every day to make sure these animals stay healthy.

(credit: CBS)

“I love working for the zoo,” said Dr. Scott Larsen, Vice President of Animal Health for the Denver Zoo.

Dr. Scott Larsen (credit: CBS)

For any veterinarian, working at a zoo is a dream job.

(credit: CBS)

“The first time I had stuck my hand down a lion’s mouth in order to pass a tube into its trachea, was kind of crazy.”

(credit: Denver Zoo)

Larsen graduated from Colorado State University and has been the head veterinarian at the Denver Zoo for seven years.

(credit: CBS)

He was part of the team that transfused plasma into Dobby the baby giraffe who wasn’t nursing enough from his mother.

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Dobby (credit: Denver Zoo)

“And now he’s healthy, he’s doing great; he’s getting to be a big giraffe out in the yard now.”

(credit: CBS)

Dobby turns two at the end of the month.

(credit: Denver Zoo)

Once state-of-the-art, the 40-year-old animal hospital where the vets have been working was cramped and antiquated. With voter-approved bond money, demolition of the old facility began to make room for a new hospital.

(credit: CBS)

“We’re going to have a larger laboratory, better facilities when we do have to house animals at the hospital so that they can have indoor-outdoor facilities. Things will be designed so that we can provide more intensive care when we need to.”

CBS4’s Joel Hillan interviews Dr. Scott Larsen (credit: CBS)

The hospital will also be more interactive, allowing guests to see some of the work the zoo does to care for its animals.

(credit: Denver Zoo)

“We can continue to do exceptional care, we can continue to advance the field in terms of what we know about these animals and how we care for them and that we will be able to share that story with the local public and the world.”

(credit: Denver Zoo)

The new hospital is expected to open to the public in 2020.

Joel Hillan