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Dr. Bott's career path leads to success with reindeer reproduction

The first female reindeer in the world born as a result of artificial insemination, thanks to the hard work of veterinarian Isaac Bott, stays close to her mother. Her name is "Mira" which is short for "Miracle".
Dr. Isaac Bott at right stands next to Dr. Ahmed Tibary from Washington State University in 2009. Tibary has coauthored a number of peer-reviewed publications that Bott has written.

Sun Advocate reporter

Many of Emery's high school graduates refuse to fade into obscurity. Consider Isaac Bott, whose future was never going to be about veterinary medicine, he had had aspirations to become a lawyer. Little did he know that his future held major achievements in animal reproduction that would garner national attention.

Bott graduated from Emery High School in 1999. There were many uncertainties in his life at that point, but one thing he did know was that he wanted to serve a mission for his church. And that he did. At the young age of 19, he found himself proselyting with a missionary companion in Peru, in the heart of South America.

But Bott quickly discovered that his missionary service was going to include far more than just walking door to door. In fact, much of his time was spent participating in community service projects. In Peru that meant helping the locals with their animals, which included everything from chickens and cows to alpacas. Bott had grown up in Castle Dale and was, as he put it, raised on a farm, so much of what he was doing was second nature to him.

In 2001, after a 24 month stint as missionary for the Mormon church, Bott found himself on a plane bound for the United States. During the flight home, as he was reminiscing about all the fond memories he had of the South American country he'd served for two years, he had a personal revelation.

"I realized how much I enjoyed helping people by helping their animals," Bott said.

It was then that he suddenly realized that he wanted to pursue veterinary medicine as a career. It was a thought that seemed to come out of the blue, because up until that point, Bott had not even considered it.

He hadn't been home very long when he began the long process of acquiring the necessary education. Bott started college as soon as he could and graduated from the College of Eastern Utah in 2003. He married Melanie Callor a few months later. Callor had also just graduated from CEU.

Bott transferred to Southern Utah University in Cedar City, and the couple moved. After two years of studies, in 2005, he graduated with a bachelor's degree.

That same year Bott had the opportunity to visit Lima, Peru to participate in an artificial insemination project that involved Water Buffalo. He spent a week there helping local vets with reproductive synchronization, which enabled groups of animals to be prepared for breeding at a specific time that had been selected in advance.

Bott soon applied at Washington State University in hopes that he would be accepted into the school's prestigious veterinary program. With only a 10 percent acceptance rate, Bott did not think he would be accepted, but he was pleasantly surprised.

"I got lucky," he said.

Bott and his wife Melanie again relocated, this time to the state of Washington. He began veterinary school at WSU, expecting to find a classroom full of men. What he saw surprised him as most of the students were actually women. It was a surprise because, as Bott indicated, the field was traditionally dominated by men. Bott hadn't been in Washington very long when he met Ahmed Tibary, a well-respected veterinarian and renowned reproductive expert. Tibary, who Bott explained was also the personal veterinarian for the king of Morocco, took Bott under his wing and became his mentor.

"He was the best mentor I have ever seen in my life," Bott exclaimed. It was from Tibary that Bott learned many of his tricks of the trade, particularly in the field of animal reproduction. They spent a great many days working together in the field, which Bott enjoyed immensely. Their working relationship fostered a deep friendship that continues today. "Never had a boring day," Bott laughed. In 2009, Bott graduated from the University of Washington with a doctorate of veterinary medicine. It was a day he had been anticipating for a very long time.

On March 29, 2010, Bott met a very wealthy man that was the owner of a reindeer farm located in Sandy. The man, Matt Shadle, had been looking for a veterinarian that could help him increase the size of his herd. The problem was, as Bott pointed out, that breeding reindeer using artificial insemination technology was extremely difficult, so difficult, in fact, that since 1973, only one person in the entire world had been able to make it happen.

Shadle knew, however, that if Bott was successful, it would pay off financially. In Utah and adjacent states, reindeer rentals are very lucrative, particularly during the holiday season. Loaning the reindeer for only a couple of hours, Bott explained, can fetch anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000. But with such low birthrates, reindeer farming isn't often the booming business that it could be.

"So we started at zero," Bott said, planning for "the precise hour" in which to inseminate the females. But it would be far more complicated than just timing.

But last April, about a year after the two had met, one of Shadle's reindeer gave birth to a female which gained national attention. It was only the second time since 1973 that such a thing had been accomplished in the world. It was an outcome for which Bott is very proud.

It was all thanks to a new artificial insemination procedure Bott developed, a procedure that Bott acknowledges may not have come to fruition if Tibary had not taken Bott under his wing and mentored him while he was attending WSU.

His career thus far has been full of surprises. One shocking experience Bott shared began as usual business but took a turn for the worst. He was examining a bull when he turned around to find that the bull's owner was in the midst of having a heart attack, and had collapsed. Bott attended to the man while paramedics were being dispatched. The man survived. But it served as a reminder to Bott that he had no desire to be a doctor of people. "I cannot stand human blood and guts," he lamented. "Cannot."

Over the course of the last 12 months, Doctor Bott's patients have varied from common farm animals like horses and cattle to animals like alpacas and reindeer. He's found a great deal of success in that time which he attributes to passion, imagination, a lot of hard work, and major support from his wife Melanie. Bott and his wife Melanie currently live in Payson and have a 5 year old girl, a 3 year old boy, and another child due to be born in June.

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