Developing Field Research and Conservation Programs: Examples from the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare and Science Institutes
R. Eric Miller, DVM, DACZM
Sr. Vice President for Zoological Operations, Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis, MO, USA
In 2004, the Saint Louis Zoo consolidated and markedly expanded its conservation activities when it formed the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute (www.stlzoo.org/conservation/wildcare-institute) (VIN editor: Original link was modified as of 12-22-20). In a similar way, in 2011, the Saint Louis Zoo is currently consolidating and expanding its research activities under a “Science Institute” that will have a special focus on conservation medicine.
The WildCare Institute has made contributions to conservation medicine in several areas in the field, including the health of birds in the Galapagos Islands, biomedical monitoring of Humboldt penguins in Punta San Juan, Peru and lemurs across Madagascar, and work to try to determine the serious decline of hellbender numbers in Missouri. Hallmarks of this effort have included Zoo staff members closely integrated into the projects, and a strong emphasis on inter-institutional collaboration as evidenced by the WildCare Institute’s 180+ partners. Given its 6-year history, both success and challenges of the WildCare Institute will be presented.
More recently, in 2011, has been enhancement of the Saint Louis Zoo’s ongoing research efforts (reproductive biology, endocrinology, nutrition, behavior, genetics, and veterinary medicine) with the addition of a veterinary epidemiologist and organized under the umbrella of newly a Saint Louis Zoo “Science Institute.” The goals are to identify and create interdisciplinary projects, programs and partners that will create synergistic effects.
A larger goal is to integrate the efforts of the WildCare Institute and the “Science” Institute in continuums that range from ex situ to in situ animals, and that emphasize research that leads to conservation action.