Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Red Wolf Annual Health Exams at PDZA

It’s that time of year within the Red Wolf Recovery Program (RWRP) that the red wolves are examined during their annual health checks and given vaccinations at the various Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP) facilities. Last month, RWRP Assistant Coordinator, Becky, joined a group at the first (and largest) RWSSP site, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA) in Tacoma, Washington, to help with veterinary exams of the captive red wolves. 

Together with veterinary staff from PDZA including Will Waddell (the RWSSP Coordinator), Dr. Karen Wolf (the RWSSP Veterinary Advisor), Dr. Katie Seeley, veterinarian intern, Mary, and staff from nearby RWSSP site Wolf Haven International (Tenino, WA), we headed out to Northwest Trek to meet longtime red wolf caretaker, Sue.  Cool (and mostly dry) weather helped facilitate catching up animals within the pens, examining wolves, collecting blood samples, and administering vaccines.  We were able to process around 30 animals over two days!

Dr. Wolf, Dr. Seeley, and Will getting ready to enter a den.

Mary and Dr. Seeley drawing blood from a captive red wolf.

I also had the opportunity to explore PDZA itself and see the wonderfully expanded Red Wolf Woods and exhibit viewing area.  I was really impressed by the Boeing Company Red Wolf Conservation Center, which included a recovery timeline featuring photos of many of the RWRP field staff.  The exhibit is a great model of how we can continue to educate people about red wolf conservation, while giving folks an up-close view of a red wolf pack.
RWSSP Coordinator Will at the Red Wolf Conservation Center at PDZA.

Road to Recovery feature in the Red Wolf Conservation Center at PDZA.

For my first visit to PDZA, I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful experience.  Thank you to all the PDZA staff who attended my talk.  It was terrific to meet so many folks, and I'm grateful to everyone for enduring my countless questions about different species they work with.  Special thanks to all the red wolf caretakers—your hard work is a major contributing factor to red wolf recovery!  
Captive wolf at PDZA. Photo credit: B. Bartel/USFWS.

Thank you also to Will and Marla for being gracious hosts!  I can’t wait to visit the crew again soon.

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