Wednesday, January 22, 2014

RWSSP of the month: Knoxville Zoo

The Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP) is the foundation of the Red Wolf Recovery Program. To let people know what’s happening throughout the program through, we are continuing to feature different RWSSP locations.  The RWSSP of the month is the Knoxville Zoo  in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Originally called Birthday Park, the zoo opened in 1948. Over the years, it flourished, and is currently home to > 900 animals, including 27 threatened and endangered species in different Species Survival Plans.
The Knoxville Zoo is currently home to four red wolves, including breeding pair 1395M and 1607F, and two male siblings, 1735M and 1736M. 1395M was born in 2005 at the Western North Carolina Nature Center (Asheville, NC) and was at Mill Mountain Zoo (Roanoke, VA) before moving to Knoxville in 2010. Female 1607 was born in 2010 at Henson Robinson Zoo (Springfield, IL) and came to Knoxville in 2011. The male siblings were born at Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago, IL) and were transferred from Wildlife Science Center (Forest Lake, MN) in 2012. 

The museum first began participating in the RWSSP in December 1990, when red wolf 278F arrived from Oglebay's Good Children's Zoo (Wheeling, WV).  One month later, 248F (from Texas Zoo; Victoria, TX) and 297M (from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center; Glen Rose, TX) arrived in Knoxville.   Pups were born in 1991, 1992, and 1993. Over the years, approximately 30 individual red wolves have spent time at the zoo.  In addition to these contributions of successful breeding pairs, Knoxville Zoo also assisted with the wild reintroduction site in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the 1990s by providing logistical support and veterinary care when needed.

Knoxville Zoo  has also had a large role in red wolf education efforts, both within the RWSSP and public outreach campaigns.  They produced the first RWSSP husbandry video in the early 1990s, and more recently have participated in the Quarters for Conservation program, where a quarter ($0.25) of every admission sold is marked for conservation donation. The zoo committee chose the Red Wolf Recovery Program to be a 2014 recipient of conservation funds again this year.  In the first year we were involved with the program, the zoo raised over $3500 for red wolf conservation efforts!

Thank you Knoxville Zoo !!

Please visit their website or Facebook page for more information!
Want to hear the red wolves howl at the zoo?  Check out this link!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Veterinarian specialists in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan

Specialists in diverse fields of veterinary medicine often provide their expertise for various procedures across the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan sites.  This week we focus on two cases at Point Defiance Zoo &Aquarium (PDZA). While the zoo has its own on-site veterinarians that specialize in zoo medicine, the added expertise of specialists from other disciplines results in our animals receiving the best care possible.  This type of cooperation is not uncommon in zoo and wildlife medicine and there were a couple of recent red wolf cases where these specialists assisted the veterinary staff at PDZA. Veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Tom Sullivan from The Animal Eye Clinic, Inc. in Seattle, WA frequently visits PDZA to take a closer look at the ocular health of the animals. He routinely checks in on the walruses and harbor seals but has also evaluated birds, reptiles, and even fish.  In this case he came to examine a red wolf. This wolf had a preliminary diagnosis of entropion, which Dr. Tom was able to confirm. Entropion is a condition where all or part of the eyelid folds inward causing  eyelashes or hair to come into contact with the surface of the eye leading to irritation and scratching of the cornea. Ultimately this can lead to corneal ulceration or perforation. This condition is fairly common in domestic dogs and fortunately corrective surgery is a viable treatment option to‘re-direct’ the eyelid with some minor excision and suturing. Within several days following the surgery, the wolf was reexamined and declared good as new.  

Dr. Tom's eye examination of a captive red wolf.
The other case involved a red wolf identified as potentially having gastrointestinal inflammation based on physical examination and preliminary diagnostic test results. Dr. Beth Herman, an internal medicine specialist from Summit Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma, WA agreed to perform an endoscopic examination. Using a fiber-optic flexible tubular instrument that is attached to a camera, she was able to visualize the stomach, intestines, and colon of the red wolf. The image projected from the camera to a monitor confirmed that there was visible inflammation in sections of the GI tract. Several biopsy samples were taken by inserting a small, flexible cable, with a pincher-type tool on the end, through the endoscope to pluck a few tiny pieces of tissue that were sent to a lab for further analysis. Having Dr. Beth available to skillfully navigate the endoscopic equipment and obtain samples provided the PDZA veterinary staff with valuable information to help develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Dr. Beth and Dr. Karen performing an endoscopic exam on a captive red wolf.
We are grateful to Drs. Tom and Beth for sharing their time and expertise to help us provide quality care to all the animals in the PDZA collection.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Welcome Cameron, our winter red wolf caretaker intern!

Please help us welcome our most recent addition to the Red Wolf Recovery Program, Cameron!  He is the red wolf caretaker intern from January through April 2014. 

Cameron was born in Indiana, but grew up in central North Carolina with his brother, sister, and parents. Lately, he resides where the work is, often traveling between Minnesota, Mississippi, Indiana, and North Carolina depending on the job outlook. 

Outside of work, Cameron enjoys drawing, birding, hiking, and traveling the states, often to catch up with old and new friends he has met along the way. He has visited the majority of all 50 states, most recently reaching Alaska, where he spent the better part of a week in Denali National Park, taking in the natural scenery and magnificent wildlife. 

Recently, Cameron graduated from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology: Ecology and Evolution. In between semesters at WCU, Cameron participated in internships at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota.
Though Cameron's studies are primarily focused around wolf behavior and management, he has also worked in a multitude of other studies and projects, including endangered gopher frog recovery efforts in southern Mississippi, elk population dynamics in western North Carolina, and song sparrow boldness and aggression in western North Carolina. There are many species in need out there, but Cameron always seems to find himself back with wolves again.

We’re lucky to have Cameron as he brings a wealth of experience, animal handling skills, and knowledge of wolf biology and endangered species recovery to this position.  As winter is our busiest field season, we’re grateful for his assistance and field support.

Welcome Cameron!