Madagascar Conservation Medicine at the 2014 AAZV annual Conference

The 2014 Annual conference of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians just ended. This year, more than 1200 Zoo, Exotic animals and Reptile Veterinarians met for a week (October18-25th) at the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The conference covered various subjects including (but not limited to) advanced topics in anesthesia and sedation, Aquatic medicine, reproduction and contraception as well as an interesting panel discussion on Quarantine and Risk assessment, as well as Euthanasia of Zoo animals. All in all, a week full of exciting encounters, interesting meetings and discussion with colleagues from all over the world but also the chance to meet and greet Disney characters.

Zoo and Wildlife veterinarians working in Madagascar were well represented and a record of three oral presentations focused on health and diseases of captive and free ranging wildlife in the 8th continent. Dr Amy Alexander from the Saint Louis Zoo presented her project on parasites in lemurs and domestic animals in Ivoloina and Betampona in Madagascar. Followed by Dr Graham Crawford’s project on the vaccination of village chicken in the Makira region, north eastern Madagascar to combat bushmeat hunting while improving community livelihood around protected areas. Both of these talks were presented during the “One Health Session” on Monday 20th October. This sessions was co-chaired by Dr Sharon Deem, Director of the Institute for Conservation Medicine at the Saint Louis Zoo. Dr Deem is also working in Madagascar through a project in Madagascar and you can read about her most recent trip on the sisterblog.

I also gave a presentation on “Giardia and Cryptosporidium in the Ranomafana Ecosystem” during the “Epidemiology of diseases in Zoo and Wild animals” session on Thursday. This project was based on my master’s project at the Université de Montréal and documented the transmission of an anthroponotic protozoan parasite in a species of critically endangered lemurs.

Finally, the conference gave us the opportunity to discuss future potential projects for wildlife health and conservation in Madagascar. Dr Randy Junge, a pioneer in conservation medicine in Madagascar, and myself had the opportunity to visit the impressive setup of the Lemur Conservation Foundation in Myakka City, FL. and discuss cases.

In conclusion, a very productive and interesting week around zoo veterinarians, friends and Disney characters in Florida, already looking forward to the next zoo veterinarian conference in Portland OR next year.
Until then, we are pleased to invite you to the Whitney Harris Conservation Forum at the Saint Louis Zoo on November 5th. This one day event will focus on Biodiversity and Development in Madagascar featuring a long time collaborator on lemur health research and conservation, Dr Mitch Irwin. See you then.

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