2023 Wild Animal Health Fund research projects

Your support gives these species a chance.


Antiviral medications for elephants with EEHV

Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) is a devastating, highly fatal hemorrhagic disease that impacts both species of elephants. This study is focusing on the effectiveness & dosage of medications to treat infected elephants.

Rat poison exposure and associated risk factors in Missouri carnivorous mammals and omnivores

Anticoagulant rodenticides (rat poisons that stop blood from coagulating) pose major risks to wildlife everywhere they are used. This study is focusing on the risk for free-living carnivores and omnivores in Missouri.


 Hyperthermia is a well reported risk in the critically endangered red wolf

Due to the limited genetic diversity within the remaining red wolf population, identifying the genetic cause for hyperthermia episodes in the wolves will have practical implications on the remaining population. Findings from this study will be valuable for the continued management of red wolf genetics. 


Investigating physiological and stress responses during immobilization of free-ranging giraffes

This project is investigating how giraffes respond to three different immobilization protocols. Immobilization is necessary for many health reasons and giraffes especially can be a challenging species due to their height. Ultimately, veterinarians need the safest and healthiest technique for the giraffes!


Finding the causes of stranding/mortality of Franciscana dolphins in Brazil

Categorized as Vulnerable by the IUCN, Franciscana dolphins are facing quite a few threats. Between 2019 and 2022, 837 dolphins were stranded along the coast and unfortunately passed within 24 hours. This study will be determining why this is happening and how to prevent it.


Evaluating the effects of immunosuppression in northern watersnakes

This project is focusing on a fatal fungus that impacts both wild and managed care snakes. It has been documented in over 60 snake species worldwide! There are currently no baseline immunity assessments of northern water snakes, so this project will be establishing those for future treatments to be developed.

Diagnosing & treating pathogenic yeast in parakeets

Researchers in this study are working towards a diagnostic test and treatment of a very fatal pathogenic yeast in parakeets. Current therapies are demonstrating limited success, so veterinarians are determined to develop better treatments.


Investigating the skin fungi of healthy & stranded Northern elephant seals, with and without alopecia

There is little knowledge out there on the health of the elephant seal's skin. This study's aim is to characterize the fungi populations of normal skin, and those with alopecia. Researchers are currently theorizing that there are key differences between the seals with alopecia and those unaffected.


Helicobacter sp. (bacteria) in degus

Degus are highly social rodents endemic to Central Chile. All though they are popular, little is known about their health. Researchers are beginning to understand more about the degus, including noting that the rodents are susceptible to a bacteria that causes cardiac inflammation. This study is investigating the significance of this bacteria in the degus.


Kidney Damage & exposure to biotoxins in free ranging California sea lions

Biotoxins produced by harmful algal blooms are becoming an increasing global threat to human and ocean health. Domoic acid (DA) is one of those biotoxins and causes cardiac disease, neurobehavioral deficits, epilepsy and so much more. This study is determining if the DA exposure is causing kidney damage in the sea lions.


Transmission of herpesvirus in monkeys at rehab facilities in Peru

In Peru, over 35,000 primates are trafficked annually. Those that are abandoned or confiscated are placed in rehab facilities while determining next course of action. Health screenings at these rehab facilities lack testing for infectious diseases like herpesvirus (HV). This study is expanding the knowledge about primate HV and the risk of cross-species transmission.

Heavy metals in Blanding's turtles and Red Eared Sliders

Habitat loss, fragmentation, and contamination due to humans are among the threats impacting Blanding's turtles and red eared sliders. There has been little investigation into the environmental contaminants and their impact on the turtles. This study will help to determine those impacts and use the knowledge gained in conjunction with other conservation techniques to protect the turtles.


Health, movement, and nutrition in sharks and rays in advance of offshore wind energy development

Sharks, rays, and their relatives have declined 71% over the last 50 years. Overfishing and climate change are the leading threats to these species, and as apex predators, they are critical members of their ecosystems. This study is focusing on establishing baseline information on their health so that the environmental impacts can be better understood.

Investigating feline distemper in mountain lions and bobcats

Feline panleukopenia virus, (FPV) or distemper, is a very contagious disease that causes a myriad of symptoms. The goal of this study is to characterize the distribution of this virus and determine the geographical spreading of FPV in California.


Health and pathogen status of Humboldt penguins in Peru

The Humboldt penguin is a declining and vulnerable species with many threats to their populations. Currently there is not enough knowledge of the penguin's health and disease to quantify the real threat that disease poses. This study will fill in the knowledge gaps in penguin health by identifying the disease threats to the birds.


One Health in the Manombo Special Reserve of Madagascar

Madagascar is designated as one of the world's top five "hottest" biodiversity hotspots, meaning it is home to hundreds of rare species. This study aims to understand the impacts of community efforts on Manombo's ecosystem recovery and animal health, including lemur health assessments, biodiversity surveys, and more.


"I would like to express my appreciation to the AAZV Wildlife Health Fund Grant Committee for selecting my project as one of this year's grant recipients. I am excited and honored to have received this award."

Dr. Flacke


"We are grateful for the funding that has resulted in these important contributions to wildlife health!"

Dr. Michele Miller

Stellenbosch University

This link will take you to the AAZV.org website to view the prior year's research projects. 

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