Management Options for Resident and Transient Wildlife in Zoos
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2009

Allison N. Wack, DVM; Ellen Bronson, Vet Med, DACZM

Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD, USA


Management of resident and transient wildlife in zoos is an important component of maintaining collection health and providing a safe environment for employees and visitors. Wildlife can introduce disease to, predate on, or compete for food with collection animals. They may also pose a risk for zoonotic disease transmission to zoo staff and visitors. In addition to wildlife, there is concern for feral or stray cats and dogs ranging through parks. These domestic animals pose risks to both collection animals and native wildlife. In designing a management plan for these populations, zoos must consider the legal, ethical, ecological, and organizational implications of their institutional policies, whether the plan involves removal, sterilization, or perhaps simple cohabitation. For example, the ecological benefits of a trap and remove program must be weighed against the potential institutional benefits of having a more static permanent population on grounds of known health and reproductive status. Additionally, the welfare of each animal affected must be evaluated and managed at or above generally accepted standards. At the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, a protocol has evolved over the years in which: raccoons are trapped and euthanatized; grey and red foxes are trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, and released; and feral cats, dogs, and opossums are trapped and removed to another location. Currently, a more cohesive plan for wildlife management is being evaluated for this institution. Other institutions may also need to consider reevaluating their plans as more information on efficacy of different control programs becomes available and options for management evolve.


Speaker Information
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Allison N. Wack, DVM
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Druid Hill Park
Baltimore, MD, USA

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