Saint Louis Zoo Launches Institute for Conservation Medicine

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Saint Louis Zoo Launches Institute for Conservation Medicine

Sept 19, 2011

ST. LOUIS, Missouri, September 19, 2011 -- A leader in wildlife conservation medicine for the past 20 years, the Saint Louis Zoo will establish an Institute for Conservation Medicine and take its conservation work to a new level, it was announced today. The Institute will focus its research on diseases known to affect threatened and endangered wildlife, as well as how disease relates to domestic animals and public health.

Though infectious diseases have always been of concern for human survival - black plague, influenza go back centuries - it is only in the latter part of the twentieth century that emerging infectious diseases were noted to be increasing in incidence and geographic range.

“Many of these emerging diseases are now common household terms,” says Dr. Sharon Deem, director of the Zoo’s new institute. “Avian flu, West Nile virus, SARS, Ebola and monkeypox are all newsworthy today. Unfortunately, because these diseases may be transmitted from animals to humans, it is possible that wildlife may be seen as the ‘bad guys,’ threatening human health. In reality, wild animals are not the bad guys. Rather, growing human populations are moving into wilderness areas with their domestic animals and also trading illegally in wildlife, which may lead to an increase in infectious diseases.”

The new institute will partner with universities, medical schools, ecologists, physicians, veterinarians and other health professionals to study the interrelated nature of diseases in animals and humans in the context of environmental change. It will be funded by private support and grants.

Dr. Deem is a wildlife veterinarian, epidemiologist and leader in conservation medicine. She has a DVM degree from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and a doctorate from University of Florida. She has conducted conservation and research projects in 20 countries within the Americas, Asia and Africa, including work for Wildlife Conservation Society, Smithsonian National Zoo and Saint Louis Zoo’s Center for Avian Health in the Galapagos Islands.


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About Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. The Zoo attracts 3,000,000 visitors each year.



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