Clayton D. Hilton, MS, DVM, CWB®

Wildlife Veterinarian and Professor

Clay Hilton is a Professor and Wildlife Veterinarian for the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute and is recognized as a Certified Wildlife Biologist® by the Wildlife Society. Starting at an early age, he was fortunate to have had both the Everglades and mangrove coasts of South Florida and the mountains of western North Carolina to fuel his love for the outdoors. Clay has a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology (1988) from Auburn University, where he also earned his Master of Science degree in Zoology-Wildlife Ecology (1994). During his research Clay used the helminth parasite faunas of 10 species of bats in Alabama to infer ecologic relationships within and among the bats. Later, Clay earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (1997) from Auburn University and then completed an internship in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery (1999). Clay has worked in a variety of clinical and educational settings, including The Montgomery Zoo, The Abilene Zoo, Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine, Big Sky Country Veterinary Clinics, and the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Abilene (TX). Prior to arriving at TAMUK, Clay was the Vice-President of Animal Care & Conservation at Birmingham Zoo, Inc.

Clay is on American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Environmental Issues and serves on the Zoo and Wildlife Working Group for the AVMA’s Panel on Depopulation. He is on the Research and Grants Committee for the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) and is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Wildlife Diseases. He is a Professional Member of the Boone and Crockett Club and is a Professional Advisor to East Foundation. Select awards have been from the Tennessee Valley Authority for his work with gates used in caves that house endangered bats, the 2014 Service Award from the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association, two Presidential Service Awards from the AAZV, and the Wilford S. Bailey Distinguished Alumnus Award for Research & Public Service from Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Clay’s veterinary interests include best practices for wildlife anesthesia & immobilization, SARS-CoV-2 in south-Texas wildlife, demographics of black bears in Arkansas and southwest Texas, assisted reproduction in ocelots, lion demographics in southwest Texas, and biotoxicology.


Research Interest

Assisted reproduction and disease dynamics in ocelots
SARS-CoV-2 and ACE-2 receptors in south Texas wildlife
Development of anesthesia protocols in denning black bears in Arkansas
Understanding recolonization efforts of black bears in the Trans-Pecos Region of Texas
Impacts of the border barrier system on large carnivores
Determination of fecal tri-iodothyronine and cortisol as physiologic proxies of animal welfare
Habitat use and resource selection among sympatric cattle, white-tailed deer, and nilgai

Course Taught

Large Animal Surgery & Medicine, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Avian, Exotic & Wildlife Medicine, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Laboratory Animal Medicine, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Clinical Externship I, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Clinical Externship I, Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Small Animal Medicine II, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Veterinary Parasitology, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Medical Terminology, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Pharmacologic Calculations, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Small Animal Medicine I, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Veterinary Anatomy & Physiology, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Veterinary Anatomy I, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Veterinary Anatomy II, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Veterinary Toxicology, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.