Tragic Death of a Giant Turtle
In April 2019, the last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) tragically died during recovery from anesthesia for an artificial insemination procedure. This species of turtle is the most critically endangered in the world, with only three individuals now known to exist; two in Vietnam and one in China, believed to be more than 100 years old. Despite this setback, WCS and our partners remain committed to preventing the extinction of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle.

Mysterious Foot Disease in Huemel
The iconic huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) is featured on the Chilean coat of arms, but is the most endangered deer in Latin America: only around 2500 remain in the wild. WCS has been collaborating with researchers to identify the cause of a damaging new foot disease in huemul that causes intense pain, inflammation, partial or complete loss of the hooves and, in many cases, death. Finally the team has identified the likely cause as a parapoxvirus, possibly originating in cattle.

Cardiac Collaboration for Geladas
WCS pathologists have discovered a worryingly high incidence of cardiac disease in gelada (Theropithecus gelada). The suspicion is that geladas develop fatal cardiac arrhythmias from which they die. To investigate the health of our gelada troop, WCS veterinarians teamed up with cardiologists from Mount Sinai Hospital and placed wireless cardiac monitors on gelada which produce Echocardiograms (ECGs) when abnormal cardiac rhythms and rates are detected.  

Pre-emptive Protection for Western Bats
Named for the white, fuzzy fungal growth seen on the muzzle of infected bats, White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a devastating disease that was first identified in the state of New York in 2007 and has since spread rapidly, killing millions of bats across North America. Our scientists are part of a team studying potential impacts of WNS on bat species of the western United States, to identify, and hopefully protect, those most vulnerable.

Innovative Eel Surgery
An anorexic American conger eel (Conger oceanicus) at the New York Aquarium was immobilized for diagnostic evaluation and found to have a fracture of his upper jaw. Fracture repair and stabilization would give the eel the best chance for healing and recovery. As this is not a common procedure in fish, creativity and thinking outside the box was necessary. Hardware is typically not available for orthopedic surgery in fish, so bone pins and external fixators had to be constructed out of other common medical supplies.
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The Wildlife Conservation Society was among the first zoos in the world to have full time veterinary care for their animals, with a clinician and pathologist hired in 1903 and a zoo animal hospital opening at the Bronx Zoo in 1916. We were also one of the first conservation organizations with a dedicated team of wildlife veterinarians deployed around the world to address the health of free ranging wildlife and problem-solve at the wildlife / domestic animal / human health and livelihoods interface, all underpinned by a foundation of environmental stewardship.

To learn how to support the  One World - One Health  portfolio at WCS, please contact Dr. Chris Walzer at or Dr. Paul Calle at .

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Photo Credits- Paul Calle/WCS (Yangtze giant softshell turtle); A.Vila/WCS (Huemul); Julie Larsen Maher/ WCS (Gelada); Cori Lausen/WCS Canada (Western bat species); WCS (Eel Radiograph)