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Our Research

Science has the power to change the world

As the global leader in supporting scientific research that advances veterinary medicine, Morris Animal Foundation has invested more than $100 million toward more than 2,400 studies to improve the health and well-being of dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas and wildlife.

At any given time, Morris Animal Foundation is managing more than 200 active studies. Each year, we also fund about 30 veterinary student scholar projects. Search our health study database by species or area of study to learn more about research that will make a true difference in the lives of animals—today and tomorrow.

To sponsor a study, please contact a member of our sponsorship team for the most up-to-date status on our research projects at sponsorship@MorrisAnimalFoundation.org or call 800.243.2345. 

Search Results

Developing a Tool to Detect Tuberculosis in Lions

Lions are a top predator in the African ecosystem, where they remove weak and diseased animals and help maintain herd health. Unfortunately, when lions eat infected Cape buffalo and other infected species, they can contract diseases, such as bovine tuberculosis (BTB), and transmit them to other lions. infected lions develop lung and bone lesions, become emaciated and die. Cub survival in infected prides is also low. Understanding BTB transmission between lions and identifying infected animals before clinical signs develop are crucial to developing disease management strategies. This study will investigate the use of a blood-based field test to detect antibodies indicating BTB infection in lions, examine the test’s ability to detect infection at different stages of disease and assess its use as a tool for ongoing disease surveillance. Keeping lions healthy will help maintain the predator–prey balance that affects the entire ecosystem.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Michele A. Miller, Palm Beach Zoo

Sponsors:

Study ID: D10ZO-039

Digestive Microbiology of Captive Cheetahs

Feeding mismanagement has been identified as a possible factor contributing to the development of gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases in captive cheetahs. The principal investigator’s previous research determined significant differences in the production of potentially beneficial and toxic metabolites in cheetahs fed whole prey compared with those eating only meat. These results indicate that the undigested portion of a natural carnivorous diet may play a crucial role in maintaining intestinal health. To optimize the health of cheetahs in captivity, it is crucial to address the current lack of knowledge on the diversity and dynamics of the functional intestinal microbial ecosystem in cheetahs. In this study a set of protocols for microbiological analysis of fecal samples of cheetahs will be optimized and used to obtain a taxonomic inventory of the predominant intestinal microbiota. The gathered knowledge will then be used to improve feeding management and thus help improve the health of captive cheetahs.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Anne A.M.J. Becker, Ghent University, Belgium, Fellowship Training Grant

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12ZO-404

Evaluating a pain-relief drug for lions, cheetahs and tigers

Meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug approved for use in domestic cats. While generally safe, there is limited information regarding meloxicam’s safety and efficacy in non-domestic cats. Population kinetics uses a few data points in the individual animals to determine clinically relevant, species-specific drug dosing. Using this approach, researchers will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of meloxicam in lions, cheetahs and tigers, and determine if current dosing recommendations provide adequate pain control in these animals.

Principal Investigator: Dawn Merton Boothe, DVM, PhD, Auburn University

Sponsors: ZuPreem®/Premium Nutritional Products

Study ID: D15ZO-805

Evaluating Chronic Kidney Disease in Captive Nondomestic Felids

The goals of this project are to identify factors predisposing animals to the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD); characterize the types of CKD observed in captive nondomestic cats in Australian zoos; compare the prevalence, progression and type of CKD seen in each species and zoo; and identify reasons for the differences seen. This study will produce a comprehensive overview of the types and potential causes of CKD and help develop protocols for early diagnosis and prevention.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jacqui M. Norris, University of Sydney

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13ZO-078

Gauging the impact of two common domestic cat diseases in Andean wild cats

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) are two common viruses in pet cats, causing significant illness and even death in infected animals. Recently, researchers have detected FIV and FeLV in free-ranging guignas, a South American wild cat species. Researchers will study if FIV and FeLV are contributing to disease and death in threatened guignas, and if the FIV and FeLV strains in guignas are related to the strains in local domestic cat populations. Findings will be used in the design of disease surveillance and control strategies, especially in regions where infected domestic cats live in close proximity to guigna habitat.

Principal Investigator: Constanza Napolitano, DVM, PhD, Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity

Sponsors:

Study ID: D15ZO-413

Managing the Spread of Canine Distemper Virus to Siberian Tigers

Canine distemper virus (CDV), which infects both domestic and wild carnivores,is a known cause of mortality in Siberian tiger populations. This project will identify the species responsible for maintaining CDV infection and transmitting it to tigers. This identification is critical for designing appropriate interventions and will help evaluate approaches to disease control. The project will also provide PhD training for two veterinarians.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Dale Miquelle, Wildlife Conservation Society

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13ZO-041

Measuring the Effects of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus in African Lions

The goals of this Fellowship Training grant are to assess immunologicand clinical effects of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection in free-ranging lions. The fellow will also assess the impact of coinfections of FIV and other pathogens.Results from this study will provide a direct measure of the immunosuppressive and health effects of FIV in African lions and will illuminate its role in the development of secondary infections.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Heather M. Broughton, Oregon State University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13ZO-420

Understanding How Canine Distemper Affects African Lions

In 1994 an outbreak of canine distemper virus (CDV) killed an estimated 1,000 Serengeti lions, one-third of this iconic population, within seven months. The Serengeti lions have been exposed to CDV on at least four other occasions; however, during those exposures the disease did not cause overt clinical symptoms of disease or mortality. The researchers seek to explain these patterns of disease reemergence. To accomplish this, they are using molecular approaches to characterize the role of host species in CDV maintenance, discern pathways of transmission and identify viral characteristics that contribute to clinical outcomes of CDV infection. Results will be used to inform surveillance and control strategies, thereby improving our ability to predict and prevent suffering and death in the Serengeti carnivore community.

Principal Investigator: Dr. L. Scott Mills, University of Montana

Sponsors:

Study ID: D14ZO-013