Animal research

ABQ BioPark Staff Contribute to Important Animal Research – City of Albuquerque

March 14, 2022 – ABQ BioPark staff have dedicated their lives to caring for the hundreds of plants and animals in the zoo, botanical garden and aquarium. But many of them also contribute to research that also makes a difference in animal care and conservation.

Publications in journals

Occasionally, ABQ BioPark staff publish their research in academic journals.

Associate Director Bob Lee was recently published as co-author of the article “Supporting Zoo Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) Welfare and Herd Dynamics with a More Complex and Expanded Habitat”, which appeared in the journal Animals last August. Research has explored methods to improve the health and welfare of Asian elephants living in zoological facilities.

In the future, BUGarium staff also hope to publish an article about the goliath beetle breeding program underway at the facility. “We’ve pretty much perfected the larval stages using a new technique we’ve developed over the past few years, but I’m still working on the difficult pupal stage,” said BUGarium curator Jason Schaller. Some of the things they study include different diets, different larval rearing substrates, different silt/clay rations, and high versus low amounts of daily food.

Conference presentations

A number of ABQ BioPark employees also share their knowledge with the animal care community via conference presentations.

Calli Hamlin, Senior Elephant Keeper, Amber Alink, Assistant Elephant Conservator, and Dr. Julie Blossom, Associate Veterinarian, recently contributed to the Asian elephant knowledge base by presenting at the Elephant Managers Conference Association in October 2021. Their presentation, “Use of Acoustic Pressure Wave Therapy to Treat Right Forelimb Lameness in a Geriatric Female Asian Elephant,” examined the effects of acoustic pressure wave therapy to treat limping. osteoarthritis in Irene, a 54-year-old Asian elephant. The team is monitoring changes in joint circumference, exercise duration, gait quality, thermal images and blood tests to determine the effectiveness of his treatments.

Behavioral Breeding Manager Tim Van Loan presented at the Animal Behavior Management Alliance conference last April. His presentation, “Positive Reinforcement in a Pinch,” explained to conference attendees how ABQ BioPark animal care staff coordinate with the veterinary team to ensure the highest level of training for animals with problems. medical. Van Loan specifically spoke about Mo the hippo, who was suffering from eye pain, and Garbanzo the cheetah, who was treated for cancer in 2018.

“In order to provide the best care to the animals at the BioPark when they are sick, we have worked hard to ensure that the care teams, the veterinary team and myself (the behavior team) work together,” said said Van Loan. “It’s the team effort and focus to ensure our animals receive the best care that really brought us all together and enabled complex behaviors like touching Mo’s eye that was hurting, happen and help our animals have a voice in their well-being.”

Van Loan also presented his poster, “Motivating a Dragon,” at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ annual conference last September. Van Loan spoke about reptile training and highlighted the success of the weekly Komodo Dragon walk and the ABQ BioPark educational presentation.

Additionally, Van Loan has presented a number of times and served on panels for the Natural Encounters Training and Education Center. Topics have included positive reinforcement training and error-free learning.

“I am passionate about connecting with other people who love animals and want them to receive the best care, and by showcasing and sharing our work with the larger animal care community, we help other animals to live their best life and ensure that the BioPark is constantly pushing the boundaries using the most modern techniques,” said Van Loan.