Innovative Agreement Supports Expansion of Zoo’s Conservation Programs
Calgary Zoo today announced an innovative agreement with one of Canada’s top veterinary clinics to assist the zoo as it expands its endangered species breeding programs.
As part of a long-term arrangement, the Animal Care Centre of Strathmore (ACCS) will provide professional and technical veterinary support services at the Calgary Zoo and at its offsite Wildlife Conservation Centre (WCC), a breed-for-release facility that is home to several highly endangered Western Canadian species such as whooping cranes and Vancouver Island marmots.
“The challenges of reproductive management and care for the resulting offspring for these endangered species, is incredibly complex and heavily rooted in conservation science,” said Dr. Clément Lanthier, President and CEO, Calgary Zoo. “Sadly, we know more and more Canadian species are at risk of extinction and so we need to step up to help. In the next few years we expect to significantly increase the number of endangered animals in breeding programs and this agreement will allow us to continue to grow our important conservation work.”
With a staff of 28, the Animal Care Centre of Strathmore (ACCS) is a full-service clinic that in 2016 was voted by the board of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association as the top practice in Canada. ACCS was founded in 2007 by Dr. Jodi Viste, who in addition to her DVM, also holds a degree in zoology. The clinic currently is a mixed practice and will expand over time to meet the zoo’s needs with endangered species.
“We are proud that we can contribute to the vitally important conservation work of saving Canadian species from extinction,” said Dr. Viste.
ACCS will work in support of the zoo’s accomplished veterinary program, led by Dr. Sandie Black and Dr. Doug Whiteside, who have a combined 51 years of zoological veterinary experience and are both recognized as among the top zoo veterinarians in North America. With the dramatic growth in conservation programs expected over the next few years, the zoo’s veterinary care team will need to expand its capacity. The zoo’s Animal Care team will maintain full control of the animal health care program at the zoo and at the Wildlife Conservation Centre.
“Over time, this new agreement will provide us with additional capacity and flexibility in our work caring for endangered species, a field the Calgary Zoo is actively expanding in,” said Dr. Black.
“Zoological medicine expertise remains critical, and by also increasing flexibility in our veterinary support services, we can better address the medical requirements of our conservation reintroduction programs. While some components of these programs are seasonal, the delivery of specialized and intensive medical care and advice fluctuates throughout the year.”
The Calgary Zoo is a North American leader in the science of species reintroduction and has been recognized as among the top five zoos in the world for conservation research. It is dramatically expanding its work with endangered species, having recently ramped up programs to support the burrowing owl, northern leopard frog and greater-sage grouse.
In the case of the greater-sage grouse breed-for-release program, the Calgary Zoo operates the only breeding facility in Canada for the highly endangered bird. The zoo is building a sustainable captive population that can bolster wild populations, while conducting research on incubation, survival and breeding that will benefit similar efforts worldwide. With a current population of 15 greater-sage grouse at the Wildlife Conservation Centre, the zoo plans to build a base population of 40 adult birds, which will hopefully breed chicks for release into the wild.
Most of the zoo’s breed-for-release programs are housed at its 320-acre Wildlife Conservation Centre, located just south of Calgary. It is the only offsite breeding centre of any zoo in Canada dedicated to saving endangered species. The zoo is currently working on the purchase of a new site for the WCC in the Strathmore area.
Interviews with Jamie Dorgan, Director Animal Care, available upon request.
Lead, Media Relations
The Calgary Zoo is a conservation leader whose mission is to take and inspire action to sustain wildlife and wild places. As a not-for-profit charitable institution, revenue is reinvested back into conservation activities at the zoo and around the world.
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