Operationalizing One Health at an Association of Zoos and Aquariums Institution
Sharon L. Deem, DVM, PhD, DACZM
Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, MO, USA
In 2011, the Saint Louis Zoo launched the Institute for Conservation Medicine (ICM) which takes a holistic approach to wildlife conservation, public health, and sustainable ecosystems to ensure healthy animals and healthy people. Our mission fits within the growing One Health movement—the merging of disciplines to ensure the health of humans, animals and the environments on which all life is dependent.1,2 During the first 8 yr, the ICM has developed partnerships with veterinary and medical colleges, universities, and a number of NGOs and zoos globally. All programs are directed at addressing wildlife conservation and health challenges, while always keeping an eye on the relationship between the health of wildlife and wild lands, and their influences on public health. We have established roles that zoo vets have within One Health.3 In addition, we have encouraged messaging to both professionals and the public on why animal and environmental health are important for human health, and how zoos may contribute to One Health.4,5 The annual One Health Fair, in which veterinary, medical and ecology students form One Health triad teams, working together to solve current conservation and public health challenges, has been hugely successful. These next-gen One Health practitioners are learning a common language across disciplines and then how to present their discoveries to zoo visitors. In this talk, I share ICM successes and opportunities, along with examples from other zoo One Health programs, to provide suggestions for zoo-based veterinarians to advance One Health both within our institutions and beyond.
The author thanks Saint Louis Zoo leadership including Dr. R. Eric Miller, Dr. Jeffrey Bonner, and Michael Macek for their long-term support of the Institute for Conservation Medicine. A special thanks to Jamie Palmer, Kathleen Apakupakul, and the many ICM student and volunteer contributors.
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2. Deem SL, Lane-deGraaf K, Rayhel EA. Introduction to One Health: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Planetary Health. Wiley Press; 2019:276.
3. Deem SL. Conservation medicine to One Health: the role of zoologic veterinarians. In: Miller RE, Fowler ME, eds. Fowler’s Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine. Volume 8. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:698–703.
4. Padda H, Niedbalski A, Tate E, Deem SL. Member perceptions of the One Health initiative at a zoological institution. Front Vet Sci. 2018;5:22. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00022.
5. Robinette C, Saffran L, Ruple A, Deem SL. Zoos and public health: a partnership on the One Health frontier. One Health. 2017;3:1–4.