Conservation medicine in and through zoos



Conservation medicine, as a distinct discipline investigating health and disease in relation to ecosystems, has grown in recent years. Veterinary teams are developing a growing understanding of the key aspects of conservation medicine, including the potential impact of wildlife disease on biodiversity and the importance of wildlife health within the continuum of human and ecosystem health. Perth Zoo veterinary staff have made an increasing contribution to conservation medicine in recent years, encountering both challenges and rewards, and reaching a clearer understanding of how the conservation medicine ethos can be interpreted within a zoo framework. This paper examines ways in which zoo veterinary teams can contribute to multidisciplinary conservation medicine programmes and discusses some of the challenges for further growth of this discipline in zoos. Opportunities for increased conservation medicine activities may exist within the current zoo framework or may be developed through close collaborative links with other conservation agencies. Successful zoo-based conservation medicine activities rely on strong relationships and broad acceptance across the entire zoo of the importance of conservation medicine outcomes.