WHA collaborates with the Zoo and Aquarium Association on a Zoo Based Wildlife Disease Surveillance Program. The program recognises that zoo clinics are an important source of information on wildlife disease events and can make a significant contribution to disease surveillance.
Wildlife clinics at the major zoos in Australia see a high caseload of free-ranging wildlife. In addition, zoos provide valuable connections to networks of wildlife carers, wildlife and ecological management programs and wildlife health research initiatives.
The program was established in 2010 with a 12-month pilot project, funded by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis (ACERA), the Australian Department of Agriculture and the participating zoos. The aim of the project was to integrate zoo-based information on wildlife diseases into the national system. Six major Australian zoos took part in the initial trial, and at the end of the trial an independent review assessed the value of the program.
The program is now continuing with funding from the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources through WHA, and an ongoing contribution from the participating zoos.
Ten zoos are now participating in the program: Adelaide Zoo, Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo, Perth Zoo, Sea World, Taronga Zoo, Taronga Western Plains Zoo and Territory Wildlife Park. Together these zoos see over 20,000 free-ranging wildlife cases each year.
Disease events in free-ranging and rehabilitation wildlife that meet the criteria of interest are reported by participating zoo veterinarians directly into the national electronic Wildlife Health Information System (eWHIS).
A paper describing the program was recently published:
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