From the Desk of Dan Ashe

Looking Back: Animal Welfare Breakthroughs

The dedicated professional staffs at AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos spend each and every day providing the best in animal care and welfare to the animals in their facilities. Whether they are hand-rearing abandoned newborns or providing geriatric care to older animals, these individuals work round-the-clock to provide the best quality care at every stage of life. AZA professionals are constantly improving the fields of animal welfare and veterinary care in order to accomplish these goals. Here are some of the breakthroughs in animal care that have been recognized this year, compiled by the AZA community and communications team.

- Cameron Park Zoo hosted its fourth annual Great Ape Cardio Health workshop. Along with Zoo Atlanta, Cameron Park Zoo was one of the first two zoos in the United States to succeed in training male orangutans to provide consistent voluntary blood pressure readings using a device called a tuff cuff, and is the only zoo to have female orangutans who participate in blood pressure readings using a customized female cuff.  These procedures are done to train and monitor the apes’ hear t health. Watch their work here.

- Virginia Aquarium, in cooperation with a team of radiologists at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, performed their first MRI of a loggerhead sea turtle who was rescued following after being struck by a boat. This procedure allowed the Aquarium to better rehabilitate the animal and release it back into the ocean. Watch how it was done here. 

Image of Animal Care Staff at Virginia Aquarium
Photo Courtesy of Virginia Aquarium

- Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine published an article about its 22-year-long partnership with the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. Since beginning in 1997, Cornell staff and students have provided world-class care and knowledge while treating a wide variety of species.

- National Aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center opened its doors to the public this summer after constructing the state-of-the-art center last year. Aquarium staff now lead guests on two-hour guided tours with include feeding demonstrations and keeper talks. Get the behind the scenes tour here

- Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo performed one of the first CT scans on a polar bear, 12-year old male Hudson. This was made possible thanks to a new CT table which can accommodate up to 2,200 pounds. At the same time, the Zoo was able to collect semen that is being used for developing assisted reproductive techniques for polar bears, a species threatened by climate change.

Image of polar bear CT scan at Brookfield Zoo
Photo Courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo

- Odysea Aquarium successfully trained Jalapeno, a pufferish, how to solve puzzles by flipping levers to obtain shrimp. The Aquarium will continue to observe Jalapeno and offer him harder puzzles to study fish behavior and memory.

- Buttonwood Park Zoo continued its long partnership with the Massachusetts College of Art and Design to design enrichment items for the zoo’s animals. This May, students created “toys” for elephants Emily and Ruth including a “box n’weave” feeding device, tire tower, wooden box chimes, and more. Not only did students get to see the elephants use their “toys,” they also learned about animal welfare and conservation.

- The Saint Louis Zoo and its three-generation family of Asian elephants were featured on NBC “Weekend TODAY” in a special featuring how the Zoo’s elephant care professionals are using innovative technology and science-based research to help the elephants maintain healthy weights. Watch the feature here.

- Reid Park Zoo tamandua Santiago was named one of the country’s “hottest studs” in a news feature describing the Zoo’s role in Species Survival Plans. Santiago remains one of the most successful breeders, fathering eight pups since 2012.

- Primate experts from around the country gathered at Lion Country Safari in May for the chimpanzee Species Survival Plan husbandry workshop. Chimpanzees, currently listed as endangered, have recently been selected as a highlighted species by the AZA for the SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program with Lion Country Safari’s primate expert and Curator of Conservation, Research and Chimps, Dr. Tina Cloutier Barbour, leading the nationwide program. 

Image of primate staff at Lion Country Safari 
Photo Courtesy of Lion Country Safari

Stay tuned for more memories from 2019!

Posted by Ashley Jones at 8:00 AM

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