Both hospitals are responsible for maintaining the health of the Zoos’ animal collections, treatment and rehabilitation of wildlife brought to the hospitals, and participation in conservation, research and education programs.The Taronga Conservation Society Australia operates two wildlife hospitals - at Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.
Both hospitals provide a high standard of care, and have well-equipped, modern veterinary facilities. Six clinical veterinarians, a veterinary pathologist and a laboratory technician work together with a team of veterinary nurses and keepers to deliver first class diagnostic services and veterinary care for a wide range of animals.
The Zoo’s veterinarians have a great deal of experience in preventative medicine, reproductive management, chemical restraint and clinical medicine in zoo and wild animals. Maintaining the health and welfare of the Zoos’ animals is a high priority, with a strong emphasis on preventative medicine and quarantine. The preventative health program includes annual health checks for some species, annual or bi-annual parasitology examinations, routine vaccinations and worming treatments, nutrition and pathology. A strict quarantine protocol is also implemented to protect the Zoos’ animals against disease.
Taronga Zoo is the only zoo in the Southern Hemisphere that employs a full-time Veterinary Pathologist. The pathologist is responsible for performing necropsies and histopathology.
The Taronga Wildlife Hospital has a well-equipped laboratory that handles most of the day to day clinical pathology testing. This includes haematology, biochemistry, parasitology and microbiology. The Taronga veterinarians can submit samples to the laboratory and receive test results for an animal while it is still under anaesthetic. A quick turn-around ensures that appropriate treatment can be prescribed for sick animals quickly.
Conservation and Research Programs
The variety of animals cared for by the hospitals is enormous and the daily challenges faced by the veterinary teams present numerous opportunities for research. The teams have the expertise and the hospital’s have the facilities to provide of samples, facilities, expertise and assistance to other researchers. Fields of research undertaken by the veterinary teams include genetics, reproduction, anaesthesia, medicine, surgery, pathology, nutrition, growth and development, physiology, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and wildlife health. This research may be undertaken at the zoo or in the field. Health and biosecurity are important aspects of conservation programs, particularly those that involve animal reintroductions or translocations. Taronga’s veterinary departments actively participate in a number of these programs such as the zoo-based breeding and reintroduction of Regent Honeyeaters and Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies.