The month of February had plenty in store for Wildlife SOS as two of our research biologists from India, Dr. Arun, Director- Research and Veterinary Operations and Mr. Baiju Raj, M. V. Wildlife Biologist, Director Conversation Project were invited to the United States to deliver a talk on Wildlife SOS and its aims & goals for wildlife conservation at three zoos in various parts of the States. Their itinerary included visits to Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Phoenix Zoo in Phoenix and Reid Park Zoo in Tucson.
An Elephant Care workshop was held in Phoenix Zoo from 17th to 20th February 2015 which roped in around 30 plus participants including biologists, elephant keepers and veterinarians from all across the world. The workshop was wholly centered on the care and management of elephants in captivity around the world and provided intense theory sessions with hands on practical sessions dealing with foot care and management of Asian elephants in Phoenix Zoo. Mr. Baiju Raj delivered a talk on the Elephant Care and Conservation Centre, Wildlife SOS’s rehabilitation center for captive elephants in Mathura, and explained in detail the everyday challenges faced by them on the job and in the field.
Following this, the group proceeded to Tucson Reid Park Zoo on 21st February for an afternoon focusing on practical demonstration of the care and management of African elephants. Dr. Arun and Mr. Baiju Raj presented a lecture on Wildlife SOS’s involvement in various projects in the last two decades to the eager teen volunteers in the zoo and received a hearty feedback from the audience. It was a learning experience for the volunteers as they thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it and seemed enthused about the fine work Wildlife SOS was involved in. The education coordinator at the zoo Ms. Jennifer was a big help as she assisted Dr. Arun and Mr. Baiju in collecting contact details and resources for the Wildlife SOS centre and we owe her a big thanks.
On 23rd and 24th February, the team scheduled a talk at the Hogle Zoo discussing the ongoing research projects in which Hogle Zoo partners with Wildlife SOS to further the cause of conservation in the country where the species comes from.
Hogle zoo is funding sloth bear denning studies and Dr. Arun was pleased to present a status report on the same. Mr. Baiju of Wildlife SOS spoke about the current status of the rescued bears and care elephants in the Wildlife SOS centers and the future plans that Wildlife SOS had for maintenance and expansion of the centers. Both our ambassadors stressed that we would like to partner with more zoos for other conservation projects involving leopards, black bears, sloth bears and captive elephants as these are the four key species we work on.
The room was packed with zoo keepers along with the Wildlife SOS USA staff and veterinary doctors of Hogle Zoo who attended the lecture and applauded the efforts of Wildlife SOS and its staff. The zoo officers arranged a complete tour for the team including personal elephant care and management sessions and a tour of Hogle zoo clinic. Dr. Arun also had the opportunity to draw blood from an African elephant using the target training method.
We are highly appreciative of everyone who hosted us and we wish we can do more of such interactive sessions in future. The Wildlife SOS team returned back with a new perspective and knowledge. We would like to extend our gratitude towards all the various zoo officials for making this visit a wonderful worthwhile experience.