Program Support for the Restoration of Biodiversity in Galapagos National Park
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2013

Joseph P. Flanagan, DVM

Houston Zoo, Inc., Houston, TX, USA


The Galapagos archipelago is located approximately 1,000 km west of mainland South America. Wildlife on these volcanic islands lived and evolved in isolation for millions of years prior to the arrival of humans in the 16th century. Since that time, the wildlife has been exploited and many plant, invertebrate, and vertebrate species have been introduced. Some of these have become invasive and threaten the natural biodiversity of this living laboratory. The Galapagos National Park (GNP) was formed in 1959 in order to preserve the integrity of the natural ecosystems. Since that time, the GNP has worked with the Charles Darwin Foundation, The Galapagos Conservancy, Island Conservation, and scores of scientists, universities, and NGOs to study, preserve, and restore the ecosystem. When requested, veterinary input is provided to support the GNP conservation programs. Support may include training of veterinary professionals, park rangers, or researchers; establishment of baseline health parameters, diagnosis and treatment of disease, development of novel control methods for introduced species, and development of protocols associated with translocations or reintroductions of wildlife. The GNP has successfully removed invasive species such as goats, donkeys, pigs, black and Norway rats, mice, and many other species from many of the islands in the archipelago, resulting in the recovery of vegetation and native wildlife populations.


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Joseph P. Flanagan, DVM
Houston Zoo, Inc.
Houston, TX, USA

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