Printer Friendly

Veterinary advances for wildlife

Since 1967, Morris Animal Foundation has invested in more than 500 wildlife health studies for a total of nearly $16 million. Here are some of the significant health advances that have occurred for wildlife because of our funding.

Diagnosing and Managing Infectious Disease: Foundation-funded studies improved knowledge of infectious disease risk factors for endangered California sea otters, leading to improved management policies and increased legal protection. Researchers developed tests to determine whether turtles and tortoises have active infection with the deadly Ranavirus, which allows for better treatment. A study in Africa determined risk factors that lead to disease transmission between primates, domestic livestock and people. The information will help prevent disease spread.

Veterinary Care for Mountain Gorillas: Nearly 25 years of funding for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) has provided emergency veterinary care to the highly endangered mountain gorillas of east central Africa, which has helped ensure the species’ survival and even led to increases in their population numbers. The MGVP now thrives as an independent organization.

Reproductive Successes: Researchers established a sperm genome resource bank for highly endangered Namibian cheetahs as well as protocols that allow wildlife veterinarians to use assisted reproductive technologies without having to move wild animals from their natural habitat in Africa. Scientists developed assisted breeding protocols that resulted in the world’s first endangered amphibians produced by in vitro fertilization and then released into the wild. Foundation funding assisted in the development of artificial insemination protocols that resulted in the births of pandas in captivity.

Improved Rehabilitation for Wild Animals: Research led to recommended treatment modifications for sea turtles and seabirds suffering from red tide intoxication, which has lessened the rates of serious injuries and  fatalities in marine life. In another study, scientists developed a new tool that monitors stress in injured owls undergoing rehabilitation, thereby improving the management, health care and health outcomes of injured raptors throughout the rehabilitation process.

Legislative Protection for Endangered Species: Multiple studies funded by the Foundation led to state legislation that increased protections for endangered California sea otters. A Foundation-funded study influenced legislation in Argentina when results showed that native ducks were being harmed by the amount of lead bullets contaminating their waters after each hunting season.

Pain Control for Captive Species: Research studies helped scientists determine how to control pain in fish and determined appropriate medications and dosing levels for managing pain in turtles, bearded dragons and parrots. In another study, researchers developed a unique way to administer pain medications to wild cats in captivity, making it possible to control pain in these animals.

Safer Anesthesia for African Species: Researchers established safe anesthetic–drug protocols for giraffes and rhinos, improving their safety when medical treatment is needed.