Creating change with research

The world is currently facing a "Pangolin Crisis".

The African white-bellied tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) exploitation for bushmeat and traditional medicine has caused 97% reduction in wild population. The drastic decline is affecting wild population demographics because larger, potentially older animals, are hunted and removed from the wild. But, the full extent of this change cannot be determined because there are no criteria to determine age for African tree pangolin. Without the ability to determine age for pangolin, we also cannot provide appropriate care for individuals that have been rescued from the wild or confiscated.

Veterinarians are uniquely positioned to develop guidelines to estimate pangolin age by using diagnostic tools routinely used in veterinary medicine. In this granted study, we propose new research to understand growth and development of the African tree pangolin by using health data including radiographs (x-ray imaging) and laboratory diagnostics (blood work) combined with fecal hormone (thyroid function) and body size assessments. We will combine these methods to distinguish juvenile from adult life stage and develop a guideline for age estimates for all pangolin of this species.

The overall goal is to develop diagnostic tools to characterize the African tree pangolin growth and development and to identify implications for species conservation and health assessments.


To See Prior Years Studies

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

Continuing to search for knowledge will stop extinction in its tracks.

Below you will find the 2018 approved and funded projects of the Wild Animal Health Fund.

  1. Cutaneous Nannizziopsis guarroi in Companion Lizards: An Epidemiologic Approach Using Quantitative PCR to Describe the Effect of Age, Species, Sex, and Location on Disease
    PI.: Krista Keller, DVM, Dipl. ACZM
    Co-P.I. Matt Allender, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACZM, PhD
    Location: University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Urbana, Illinois
  2. Developing diagnostic tools to characterize African tree pangolin growth and development, implications for species conservation and health assessments
    PI.: Copper Aitken-Palmer, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACZM
    Co-P.I.: Michael Adkesson, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, Dipl. ECZM
    Co-P.I.: Jimmy Johnson, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACZM
    Location: Chicago Zoological Society & Columbus Zoo
  3. Improving the Management of Chronic Respiratory Disease in Captive Bornean Orangutans (Pongo Pygmaeus) Utilizing Cystic Fibrosis Therapies In an Orangutan Rehabilitation Program In East Kalimantan, Indonesia
    PI.: Nancy Lung, VMD, MS
    Co-P.I.: Agnes Pratamiutaminingsih, DVM
    Co-P.I.: Fransiska Sulistyo, DVM, MVS
    Co-P.I.: Jennifer Taylor-Cousar, MD, MSCS
    Location: The Bornean Orangutan Survival Foundation, Borneo
  4. Investigation of the use of biochemical markers for cardiac disease in marine mammals
    PI.: Melissa Joblon, DVM
    Co-P.I.: Jennifer Flower, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACZM
    Location: Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut
  5. Immunogenicity of an orally administered microencapsulated anthrax vaccine for use in wildlife
    PI.: Jamie Benn, PhD Candidate
    Co-P.I.: Walter Cook, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVPM
    Co-P.I.: Allison Rice-Ficht, PhD
    Location: Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine
  6. Disease risk assessment of the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme) Pink Pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri) population for reintroduction to Mauritius
    PI.: Sara Shopland, BVSc, Dipl. ECZM
    Co-P.I.: Michelle Barrows, BVSc, Dipl. ECZM
    Location: Various zoos throughout Europe; Wild Place Project, Bristol, England; Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey
  7. Surveying native wildlife for a newly-discovered lethal pathogen carried by invasive cane toads in Australia
    PI.: Catherin Shilton, DVM, DVSc
    Co-P.I.: Gregory Brown, PhD, MSc
    Location: University of Sydney's Tropical Ecology Research Facility, Fogg Dam, Australia (Northern Territory)
  8. Identification and Characterization of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in the Microbiome of Wild Seabirds in two Oceanic Islands, Brazil
    PI.: Ana C. Ewbank, DVM, MSc, PhD candidate
    Co-P.I.: José Luiz Catão-Dias, DVM, MSc, PhD
    Location: University of São Paulo, Brazil; Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology, Madrid, Spain
  9. Comparison of lactate measurements in Quaker parrots (Myopsitta monachus) via three different analyzers
    PI.: Brian Jochems, DVM
    Co-P.I.: J. Jill Heatley, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACZM, Dipl. AVBP
    Co-P.I.: Karen Russell, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVP
    Location: Texas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station, Texas
  10. Health status and welfare of translocated Bolivian river dolphins (Inia boliviensis) experiencing high anthropogenic disturbances
    PI.: Ellen Bronson, med. vet., Dipl. ACZM
    Co-P.I.: Sharon Deem, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACZM
    Co-P.I.: Paulo Colchao Claux, BMVZ
    Co-P.I.: Claudia Venegas Cuzmar, Lic
    Location: Maryland Zoo; La Pistola Lake, Bolivia
  11. West Nile virus seroconversion in Loggerhead Shrike after vaccination with a killed virus vaccine with application for developing a vaccine protocol for captive-bred and wild-caught shrike
    PI.: Kerry Schutten, DVM
    Co-P.I.: Amy Chabot, PhD
    Co-P.I.: Hazel Wheeler, MSc
    Location: The African Lion Safari, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  12. The relationship between microbiomes, pathogens, and host condition in free-ranging African buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
    PI.: Claire Couch, PhD candidate
    Co-P.I.: Brianna Beechler, PhD, DVM
    Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
  13. The development and comparison of a portable novel tuberculosis RT-qPCR assay to the new generation Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra assay as a point of care diagnostic test for tuberculosis in African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)
    PI.: Wynand Goosen, MSc, PhD
    Co-P.I.: Michele Miller, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ECZM
    Location: Kruger National Park, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

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How do you treat a spiny sea urchin?

Very carefully according to zoo and wildlife veterinarians! And the treatment has less to do with our safety than theirs!

Pharmacokinetics is the study of how the body processes drugs. Having this knowledge makes it possible to provide the best treatment for animals. For many important species, we have little or no information to go on. Hence, this is especially true for sea urchins.

Sea urchins are vital to the ocean's ecosystem. They provide food for predators and regulate algae and kelp forest growth. When large numbers of sea urchins die at once, it is called a mass mortality event. These events result from disease-causing organisms in their habitat. The sea urchins can develop opportunistic infections, which leads to the die off. The whole ecosystem suffers. So, having a reliable treatment for these diseases is a pressing need.

But how do veterinarians know the right drugs, dosages, and treatment protocols to use? Pharmacokinetic research provides the answers and the knowledge they require. In this 2015 project, a specific dosage was determined to prove effective in antimicrobial treatments for the sea urchins with respect to species-specific pathogens.  It is with your support of the Wild Animal Health Fund that we can work together to solve this prickly problem.

Animals can't ask for help. That's why we're here.

The Wild Animal Health Fund advocates for the injured, sick and dying animals all around the world. With your help, we can make a difference.