Amphibian Veterinary Outreach ProgramMany threatened amphibian species require conservation intervention of some sort, and those that cannot be saved in the wild in a timely manner require captive rescue. However, it is not enough to simply collect them, place them in glass boxes, and consider the job finished. Long-term health issues related to basic husbandry, nutrition, and disease will, if left unchecked, eventually cause the captive population to follow the wild one into extinction, wasting precious time and other resources in the process. Amphibian caretakers must be enabled with the skills to properly manage the species in their care from a health, veterinary and population management perspective. In late 2008, after visiting ex situ facilities in Latin America where problems were evident, an idea germinated to help range-country programs reach higher levels of success in their breeding programs through on-site training with experts in amphibian husbandry, veterinary work and population management. With support from the Turner Foundation, Nipmuc High School, and Amphibian Ark an Amphibian Veterinary Outreach Program (AVOP) was initiated in 2009. The AVOP team works with an overall objective to improve regional and local capacity for training, diagnostic and treatment. Specifically, this team consists of:
- Brad Wilson, DVM. A private clinical veterinarian from Atlanta, Georgia, Brad has been the consulting veterinarian for the Atlanta Botanical Garden since the mid-1990s and has worked on projects in Panama, Ecuador and also in Georgia. He is an Amphibian Ark Consulting Veterinarian and has been an instructor with AArk husbandry workshops around the world.
- Sam Rivera, DVM. Also a clinical veterinarian, Sam is based at Zoo Atlanta where he has been since 2005. Sam has a long teaching history and his clinical experience ranges from Giant Pandas to Galapagos Tortoises to extremely endangered Panamanian amphibians. Sam’s fluency in Spanish is a huge help in making sure our collaborators in Latin America fully comprehend the information provided.
- Allan Pessier, DVM is an amphibian pathologist in the Wildlife Disease Laboratory at the Institute of Conservation Research at the San Diego Zoo, where he has worked since 2003. Allan’s contributions to the field of identifying, diagnosing and treating amphibian chytrid fungus are recognized worldwide. He has trained many students around the world in the sampling, staining and diagnoses of amphibian ailments.