Archive for June, 2009

Yaboumba Romania

DSC_2082OutdoorVets are the new representatives of Yaboumba foundation in Romania! Thank you Norin Chai for your support and for believeng in us!



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fMy first encounter with Vienna Schonbrunn Zoo  and the its vet staff, took place during our weekly practice of the Conservation Medicine Module. Parts of our CM class had to come each Wednesday at 8 o’clock and join the vets on their daily activity. My first day was pretty exhausting, we had to tirm the claws of 15 Somali sheeps and take blood samples from them. After this we were being made the tour of honor of the zoo and around 11 we finished our job there. We also came when a hippo had to be anesthetized for castration and once we saw the training of the panda for clinical check-ups, incluiding blood sampling . During all this rotation period my group went there for 3 or 4 times.
Schonbrunn Zoo is quite a state of the art zoo, maybe the most pleasant from Europe. Numerous ex situ and in situ projects , a continuing improvement of the animal enclosures, many educational and awareness programs are being held here. Because of this and many other reasons I found it quite unsatisfactory for my interest in zoo animals to spend only this small period and, so, I decided to do more about it.

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May was an unexpectedly crazy month for me this year and I barely had two quiet days in a row. It seems that May has the highest conference/congress/symposia density per unit of time and, like any other passionate (ok, geeky) student, I tried to take part at least in some. Of course that my neat and organized Austrian schedule went right down the drain, and turned into a chaos. I had to reschedule a whole week of clinical rotation, 4 courses and at least 3 assistants and professors heard my apologies on why I will not be able to attend their lectures…But I made it (I think…).

Our first journey was only an hour and a half away from Vienna, where I study. Very well prepared for a mountain expedition, with tent, sleeping bangs and a ton of food supplies, we went off to learn some surgery…

CAZWV, the Czech spin-off of EAZWV, organizes a conference in Brno every 2 years on specific topics. In 2007 the theme was exotic small animal dentistry, and this year, between 30th of April and 3rd of May, Brno hosted talks about soft tissue surgery.


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1. Introduction

  • Population density is controlled by natality (+potential reproductive output), mortality (+potential/actual longevity, survivorship curves), dispersal and recruitment. Definitions and examples of basic terms are provided.

2. Population regulation

  • Density dependent and density independent factors are defined and characterized from the point of view of populations and ecosystems that they influence.

3. Sex Ratios

  • Classification (Mayr): primary, secondary, tertiary sex ratio.
  • A difference between bird and mammal patterns is noted, as well as evolution according to age. Examples of sex ratio in birds vs. mammals and ungulates are given.
  • Explanation of skewed ratios:
    • Hypothesis I. The “chromosome” hypothesis
    • Hypothesis II. Density-independent mortality (predation, physiological stress) hypothesis
    • Hypothesis III. Intraspecific competition hypothesis
  • Linking natality to sex ratio: how dominance affects different species’ sex ratios

4. “Population density affects sex ratios in red deer”

  • Summary, including Hypothesis, Results, Discussion
  • Extensive presentation of the paper, emphasizing on observations and discussion
  • Key points:
    • Dominant females are more likely to produce male offspring than subordinate females.
    • Offspring sex ratio was associated with dominance at low but not at high density.
    • The sex ratio at birth was also correlated with the amount of rainfall between November and January
    • Female fecundity also decreased with rising population density.
    • Fecundity increased significantly with dominance ranking.
    • Corpus luteum function is affected by social status in red deer.
    • The correlation between November–January rainfall and annual birth sex ratio was presumably generated by post-implantation fetal mortality.
    • Resorption of male fetuses => mothers that are unable to invest enough resources to provide them with a reasonable chance of breeding successfully.
    • High mortality of male fetuses may be a by-product of faster male growth rates.

Picture 1


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Maybe now you are wondering why I first  contact Prof. Walzer and what is he doing in all this picture. Actually he is the type of person in which all those information and trainings are finally mixed into a vet. He was teaching us of wildlife diseases. Here we’ve talk about the role and how a vet should face problems concerning emerging diseases, zoonoses or diseases with pandemic nature like : Chronic Wasting Disease, West Nile Fever, Tularemia, SARS, H5N1, Smallpox,etc. 011309171253Also how a vet should act in, let’s say, a TB outbreak in a zoo or how a field necropsy and diagnosis of a disease should be made. Prof. Walzer also took us once to help him anaesthetise and castrate a hippopotamus in the Schonbrunn Zoo.

Another amazing experience took place in Hungary on the last didactic trip we made in January . We first have been for two days in Budapest Zoo which is a distinguished zoo with a lot of conservation programs and a really professional vet team. Hear I must mention that took place the first world successful birth in a white rhino after an artificial insemination with frozen semen .


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After only one week , the coolest thing ever was organised with Prof.  Franz Schwarzenerger. We had a didactic excursion at 9 zoos and wild animal parks throughout the Netherlands and Germany. Each day we drove at two different places where we had the zoo vet or the curator for around 3 hours, all for ourselves . This way we could bomb them with questions and suck the knowledge out of them. In every place there was  a special topic to discuss upon, and for this we made first some documentation . In zoos like Koln Zoo and Wuppertal Zoo we talked about the status of elephants in zoos and how to handle them from the veterinary point of view. In AAP-Primate Rehab Center and Apenheul Park the main topic was primates, how to provide enrichment or disease control factors. Duisburg and Burger Zoo provided the perfect environment to talk about delfinarium and aquarium issues. In Dortmund and Munster Zoo we focused on in situ and ex situ projects of Sud Asia and Sud America. And we’ll never forget our safari trip to Beekse Bergen, were the giraffes liked the squashed insects form our car windshield. It was an incredible didactic and social experience.P1050045P1050046 (more…)

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CM-Logo!2I had the possibility to receive a 10 months post-graduation scholarship from Romania’s Ministry of Education and choose any subject I would have like to study . It was the perfect way to do all the things that I have dreamed but in my country i didn’t had the possibility to do.

Wildlife medicine and conservation was the reason I first consider to study veterinary medicine but something was lost in the way and for realistic reasons I had to stick with conventional medicine until I finished my University.  I was lucky to hear about some kind of a wildlife medicine module from Vienna’s University of Veterinary Medicine and from professional and personal reasons I decided to approach Prof. Christian Walzer and ask him if I can join his class as an foreign student. Actually this module is intended for last year students, just before they finish their University. Was like me repeating the last semester, but in a much nicer way. (more…)

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