Primate Conservation in the Pearl of Africa

A group of baboons at Kibale National Park make behavioral observation easy.

My sophomore year of undergrad at Cornell, I applied on a whim to Hunter College’s winter break study abroad program with Dr. Jessica Rothman, a primatologist in the Anthropology Department at Hunter. I have been passionate about wildlife since childhood.  Even as a toddler, I would stare unblinkingly at my safari motion lamp, watching the elephants, giraffes, and lions strut in an endless loop and dreaming of the day that I would see them for myself. When I was admitted into the program, my dream was coming true. 

Tito, a habituated chimpanzee in Kibale National Park, takes advantage of a photo op.

It’s no secret that there is a danger in setting high expectations. In the weeks leading up to my 2018 trip to Uganda, I had ample time to question whether my study abroad experience could possibly live up to my hopes. And I can’t count the number of times I screamed at the television in horror in the week before my trip, as the Weather Channel heralded the arrival of Winter Storm Grayson, the bomb cyclone that slammed the East Coast two days before my departure from JFK Airport. Pre-trip jitters aside, I can say with tremendous gratitude that this trip managed to exceed my already sky high expectations. This experience lent me an educated view of the nuanced complexities of conservation. 

 The course, Tropical Forest Conservation, was primarily geared towards field research, so we spent time learning how to identify flora and fauna in the forest, how to track primates as they moved throughout the forest, and how to best observe them in Kibale National Park. This first leg of the trip allowed me to see a range of species in their natural habitats and to see for myself the ecological diversity present in the park that makes its protection essential. I also gained a better understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges associated with field work. 

The second leg of the trip in Queen Elizabeth Park consisted of game drives, during which we saw lions, elephants, warthogs, hippos, African buffalo, and more. Seeing these species for myself was definitely among my favorite parts of the trip. However, throughout the course, we also heard lectures from various conservation workers in Uganda, from researchers to members of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. I had the chance to hear firsthand about some of the challenges of conservation and to understand the complexities of achieving lasting change. Before this course, I saw the challenges to conservation as being quite simple. I imagined those who would seek to harm animals as movie-style villains, all but swathed in black capes. The narrative is certainly riddled with villainy, but I now know just how many complicating factors there are. Many people in Uganda have complex relationships with their native wildlife because the animals are inadvertently hindering their way of life. A single elephant can consume in one night the crops that would feed a family for a year. Wild animals can at times pose a threat to the livelihoods of local people, so asking them to help conserve their wildlife is more complicated than I had initially thought.

Elephants at Queen Elizabeth National Park enjoy a dip.

I was so intrigued by the challenges to conservation that months after my trip, I interviewed Dr. Colin Chapman, a professor in the Anthropology Department at McGill University, Canada Research Chair in Primate Ecology and Conservation, and the head of the Kibale Monkey Project in Uganda about his conservation and humanitarian work. Dr. Chapman’s extensive research work around the globe has lent him a unique perspective on how to best promote an interest in conservation. He told me that “Almost everywhere the local people want to conserve. There’s a real pride in their forests and their animals. When they don’t conserve, it’s mostly because they feel they don’t have a choice. If you have to cut down a tree to send your children to school, what’s your choice? I think that’s the thing that I’ve found around the world and I find it really positive. If we can provide things that make life a little bit easier, it’s basically going to mean that there’s a big will to conserve.” My own experience in Uganda led me to similar conclusions. Dr. Chapman’s efforts to improve park-people interactions have already yielded positive results. (For more information, I recommend visiting Dr. Chapman’s website: http://www.chapmancolin.com/ ). 

The issues surrounding conservation are so multi-faceted, they will require an equally complex approach to solving them. My trip to Uganda and the conversations that ensued were a tremendous learning experience for me. Through my different conservation and wildlife medicine related experiences, I have met so many different people with different backgrounds, opinions, and skill sets. What unifies them is a passion for conservation and a drive to support animal populations and their environment, and, in doing so, better the human experience. 

 


Colleen Sorge, class of 2024, is a Cornell DVM student from Long Island, NY. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Animal Science from Cornell University in 2020. She has a wide range of interests within the veterinary field, including both small animal and wildlife medicine. 

 

Indonesia’s Intricacies: Rhinos, Lorises, and a Dab of Dengue

View along the way to International Animal Rescue – Bogor

When one thinks of Indonesia, picturesque scenes of Bali’s beaches or bold batik patterns might come to mind. Indonesia has an entirely different meaning to me, as this archipelago constitutes one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Amidst the dense rainforest foliage are fascinating endemic species, but given threats from habitat loss and poaching, the future of some Indonesian species remains uncertain. In particular, Javan and Sumatran rhinoceroses exist in a precarious state, being some of the most endangered mammals in the world. Last summer, I had the privilege of traveling to Indonesia with Carmen Smith (DVM 2021) and Montana Stone (BS 2019), under the guidance of Dr. Robin Radcliffe and support from Expanding Horizons and Engaged Cornell, to partake in a multi-faceted program centered around international conservation efforts.

Alex teaching children about the role sea birds play in the ecosystem

Building upon Dr. Radcliffe’s well-established relationships with partners in Indonesia, we were warmly welcomed by personnel from WWF-Indonesia, who had created a summer schedule with the goal of exposing us to different components of conservation work. First, we headed to the buffer zone of Ujung Kulon National Park, the last habitat of the Javan rhino. We assisted a group known as Sekala Petualang as they led conservation education programs for local school children where mainly Indonesian was spoken. It became quickly apparent that the weekly Indonesian classes we took during the spring semester before leaving were my only saving grace in that remote part of Indonesia (where cellular signals are nonexistent). Environmental stewardship was the underlying theme to the program, as educating children is an effective way to create a conservation-embracing culture. Despite living alongside a national park with Javan rhinos, a number of children were unaware that such an animal even existed in their “backyard”. It was heart-warming to see that the kids had open and receptive minds. One of Carmen’s presentations introduced veterinary medicine, yet another unfamiliarity that intrigued them. This segment of the summer underscored the importance of engaging with communities, walking in their shoes, and creating a space conducive for exchanging ideas bidirectionally. 

The next portion of the summer was spent at Institut Pertanian Bogor, a prominent university, which brought us back to the hustle and bustle of Indonesia’s urban scene. The crux of Carmen’s Expanding Horizon’s project was investigating rhino pathology as a means to better inform rhino conservation initiatives. The pathology faculty were very generous with their samples, taking us through both Javan and Sumatran rhino mortality cases. Despite my ineptitude with pathology, I was able to gain an appreciation for the challenges pathologists face working with wildlife species. I soon learned what the word “autolysis” meant as we scanned each image from the necropsy; imagine the difficulty of mobilizing a team of pathologists that must trek with their supplies to remote sites within the rainforest, finally laying their hands on the deceased rhino more than a day post-mortem, precious tissues vulnerable in the incessant Indonesian heat.

Carmen analyzing histology slides at IPB

Ultimately, Carmen and I were able to translate pathology reports into English to increase their accessibility, perform literature reviews, and identify topics worthy of discussion for a scientific publication. We realized that while individuals may have a species’ best interest in mind, other parties are bound to have conflicting interests or political underpinnings that ultimately jeopardize cohesive collaborations between various conservation organizations. We learned that any work of such nature, especially in a foreign country, must be done with exacting precision and respect. This chapter of the summer would be incomplete without mentioning my bout with dengue fever, which actually made me miss a portion of the pathology work. What started as a simple cough turned into body aches, fever, inappetence, and more. I figured an illness was inevitable in a novel tropical country, so I thought this was normal (despite running out of all of my pain medication trying to ease the symptoms). Soon thereafter, Montana also fell ill with dengue, at which point I was tested. Although no one heads off to international experiences with the intention of contracting a mosquito-borne disease, the experience was a lesson in resilience and preparedness. After all, despite being ill, I was unable to turn down a day trip to Taman Mini, a phenomenal bird park!

Prior to the next portion of the program, we briefly visited an illegal pet market, which unnerves me still to this day. I had a mental image of what such a market would entail, though nothing could have prepared me for the true horror I saw. Densely packed cages teeming with stressed birds (not to mention the dead birds littering the cage bottoms) were interrupted by cages of civets, flying foxes, macaques, and more. My heart ached for the bird that would not live to see another sunrise, for the listless civet lying motionless in its cage, and for the chained baby macaque tucked away in the shadows. I felt defeated, but I realized that such scenes are the very essence of what drives me and many other veterinary students to pursue careers that contribute to the conservation of wildlife. This experience solidified why educating the next generation on the importance of conservation and environmental stewardship is essential. 

Routine health assessment of a Javan slow loris at IAR

With the atrocities from the market still fresh on our minds, Carmen and I went to International Animal Rescue – Bogor, a site that primarily focuses on rescue, rehabilitation, and release of Javan and Sumatran slow lorises. Lorises are common in the wildlife trade, and in the markets, their canines are clipped, setting the stage for dental and subsequent metabolic disease. A number of the lorises we worked with were non-releasable, so the rescue exceeded twice its anticipated capacity. We engaged in loris husbandry, spent nights observing lorises (an experience unlike any other!), and helped with their veterinary care. Multiple patients illustrated the harsh reality of a fragmented habitat. The mere existence of a road bordered by uncoated electrical wires poses a great threat to unsuspecting lorises attempting to cross the road. The prognosis is often bleak for the few lorises that manage to survive electrocution. This experience solidified my understanding of the human/wildlife dynamic, which tragically tends to swing in favor of the former.

Carmen, Montana, and Alex at Kelian Sanctuary, Borneo

Habitat loss and fragmentation set the stage for the next experience that brought us to Kelian Sanctuary in Borneo. The previous year, a Sumatran rhino named Pahu was rescued from the wild and brought to the sanctuary. Pahu is possibly only one of three rhinos remaining of her subspecies, so it is of utmost importance to rescue these isolated animals and investigate breeding options. There are Sumatran rhinos (Sumatran subspecies) that reside at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Sumatra, so collaboration is anticipated in an attempt to save this species overall. As we landed in Borneo in a precarious propellor plane, the three of us were riddled with excitement. In the few days we had at Kelian, the team composed of individuals from WWF-Indonesia and ALeRT completely immersed us in the operations at the sanctuary. Before I knew it, I was hand feeding Pahu various plants, watching her veterinary examinations and procedures, and observing her in her paddock. It was at that moment that it was clear to me that megafauna like the Sumatran rhino simply cannot be lost from this planet—it is our duty to fight with all of our passion and intensity to save such species before they slip away. Even when I was out with the team collecting food for Pahu or planting trees in the rainforest, I embraced the physical and acoustic beauty of the surrounding rainforest. During patrols of Pahu’s paddock, I witnessed gibbons, macaques, hornbills, and even a clouded leopard. During this time, Montana was able to train personnel at the sanctuary to utilize a Cornell Lab of Ornithology Swift recorder to document Pahu’s vocalizations, as no bioacoustical analysis had previously been done on Sumatran rhinos. To this day, I treasure hearing a content Pahu wallowing in the mud, “humming” and producing kazoo-like sounds, and I hope that one day everyone will know of this rhino’s plight and hear their delightful vocalizations.

As I write, I wonder whether that was my first and last time working with a Sumatran rhino. Let me re-phrase that—will the next generation even learn of critically endangered species like the Indonesian rhinos or will the species’ names be relics of a bygone era? Questions like these serve as an impetus for my passion in conservation medicine. My time in Indonesia helped me grasp what international conservation work entails, exposed me to the associated difficulties, all while leaving me inspired. I met some of the most passionate individuals in Indonesia, so I have faith that my previous questions will have favorable responses decades from now.

Lessons from Wolf Tracking in the Pacific Northwest

Wild wolf caught on trail camera.

Few species have as storied a history with humans as the wolf. From an early age, I was fascinated by their prehistoric domestication and their more recent exterminations and reintroductions. I devoured every book about wolves I could find, and learned about the 1995 reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. I found it so fascinating that one species could have such an extensive impact on the landscape. The wolves pushed elk from their comfortable hangouts on river banks, allowing stream flora to build up, and a greater variety of birds to make their homes on the banks. Wolves’ presence went so far as to have a physical effect on the topography of the area, and even brought back the quaking aspen tree from the brink of extinction! Learning these facts made me realize how important wolves are to their ecosystems as a keystone species, and kindled my desire to go out and explore the land they were changing.  

As a high school freshman already thinking about a career working with animals, I took part in a wolf tracking summer camp for teenagers run by Wilderness Awareness School, based in Washington State (quite a distance away from my home in New Jersey). At this camp we searched for signs of wildlife during the day on field expeditions, and came back in the afternoon to hit our mobile library to research our observations. Our instructors drilled us in subjects like paw pad morphology, bird markings, and common behaviors of local wildlife. We developed our deductive reasoning skills by transforming our observations on the ground into conclusions about the ecosystem’s structure. Every time we thought we’d found a sign of the area’s resident wolf pack, we’d mark it down on our map. By the end of the camp we had a pretty good idea of its recent activities. We left a trail camera at one of their high activity sites, and captured a video of an adult wolf accompanied by that year’s new litter of pups! Not only was it rewarding to see such elusive animals on our own cameras, but also we were the first observers to confirm that the pack had whelped that year. We were able to provide that information to Washington’s state scientist.

Front and hind track from a wolf in the cascade mountains.

There I also learned about the current challenges that occur when the lives of wolves and people intersect. In Washington and Idaho where wolves travel down from Canada and up from their reintroduction point in Yellowstone, they live on the same land where cattle farmers raise free range beef. Needless to say, this creates a complex intersection of values. Cattle farmers depend on their livestock for their livelihoods. Ranchers and their communities are concerned that wolves will harm that livelihood by killing their cattle instead of elusive deer. Whether it was seeing bumper stickers that said “smoke a pack a day” next to a picture of a wolf’s head, or hearing stories about hunters shouting at the top of the lungs that all wolves need to go to hell, I learned quickly that people felt strongly about this issue. As a future veterinarian and scientist, I understand the need for veterinarians to protect and help both cattle and wolves, supporting farmers and healthy ecosystems. 

Before attending this program, I didn’t understand how reintroducing wolves could have any negative impacts. Through my experience at Wilderness Awareness School I came to appreciate the validity of the concerns for reintroduction. Even if reintroducing wolves benefits the overall ecosystem, we cannot ignore the effects they have on ranchers’ livelihoods. Whether it’s protecting a herd of cattle, or treating an injured wolf, veterinarians can help innovate solutions to benefit all animals, wild and domestic. 


Patrick Liu, class of 2024, is a Cornell DVM student. He graduated with a degree in chemistry from Rutgers University in 2020, and plans to pursue internships and residencies after veterinary school. Apart from his love for horses, he has a strong interest in ecological research and wildlife and conservation medicine. 

 

 

Moving Forward with Wildlife

I am truly fascinated by the interconnectedness of our world. One of the reasons that I am so passionate about wildlife medicine and conservation is because it spans the dimensions of human, non-human animal, and environmental wellbeing. I could spend hours avidly discussing all of the intricate connections between wildlife and human health.

The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception to the fact that everything in the world is deeply intertwined. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had conversations with my friends and colleagues about issues such as social inequality, healthcare, community, societal values, epidemiology, history, new developments, and the list goes on. These recent current events also reveal an important intersection between human and wildlife health and, in doing so, provide an impetus for us to take responsibility for the wellbeing of wildlife and the environment.

Elephants in Tanzania (Loxodonta africana)

There is a great deal of evidence that suggests that many emerging human diseases, including this current pandemic, are linked to our interactions with wildlife. The CDC estimates that 6 out of every 10 established infections and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infections are from non-human animals. In addition to the current pandemic, past health crises, such as HIV and Ebola, were also linked to the wildlife trade. The goal of this article is not to thoroughly evaluate the evidence for that connection, but rather to discuss its consequences. If you would like to learn more about the relationship between wildlife and emerging human diseases, check out the resources at the end of this article.

If we acknowledge that potentially dangerous emerging diseases can often be linked to our interactions with wildlife, then we must ask — what do we do about it? For the most part, I hear two responses. One — support wildlife health and reduce harmful interactions between humans and other animals. Two — get rid of wildlife. You might guess that I would personally choose option one. I believe that every person has many reasons to do the same.

We rely on wildlife health more than we often acknowledge, or maybe would even like to admit. Wildlife health is imperative for healthy ecosystems and we rely on those ecosystems for life itself. Think big — oxygen, food security, water, climate stability, and more. Healthy ecosystems also provide enormous economic stimulation through massive industries such as transportation, shipping, recreation, and many more. We continue to uncover potential medications from areas that have persistent biodiversity, such as alternatives to opioids and possible new sources of antibiotics. We need healthy ecosystems all over the world to support and enable us to continue living on this planet. Unfortunately, those ecosystems and the inhabiting wildlife species are threatened from many directions.

Lemon shark off of South Caicos, Turks & Caicos Islands (Negaprion brevirostris)

Species that once had the space to exist without interacting with humans are now forced into contact with human communities after their habitats are continuously destroyed and fragmented. Climate change leads to shifting geographic ranges leading to species appearing in new locations around people that have never been exposed to them before. Many species become endangered or extinct every year, all representing possible losses for unforeseen discoveries. Devastating abuse is committed against animals through the wildlife trade all across the world. Those wildlife trade markets also pose a major risk to human health by exposing a wide variety of stressed, immunocompromised animals to each other and humans in tight quarters, sometimes being ingested and in other cases begin transported all across the world. The more we push these animals to the brink, the more at risk we become — to disease, climate instability, food insecurity, loss of biodiversity, and more.

I have good news though. Every single person has the potential to be a conservationist. That means you. Each one of us has our own unique set of perspectives and skills that can be wielded to improve the state of wildlife and ecosystem health, and therefore environmental and human wellbeing across the world. The most important thing to know is that we all have something to offer.

New Zealand fur seal on the South Island of New Zealand (Arctocephalus forsteri)

If you have training, consider how you might apply that knowledge to offer a new solution. Successful communication takes on infinite forms — use your method to spread awareness, organize, and build ideas together. We can communicate through visual art, music, words, writing, and so on. Find your strength and implement it. Be mindful of what you consume and purchase. Turn off your lights. If you are coming from a place of privilege, acknowledge that with a sensitive awareness and use it to make the world a better place for humans and so many other species.

No action is ‘small’. Taking action is a big and mighty step to take, no matter the scale. When you take action, you become a conservationist.

This crisis has exposed just how reliant we are on mutual compassion and consideration for other beings sharing our communities and our planet. By taking action on issues we care about, we can nourish that feeling of unity and respect. We need to nurture a culture of compassion that acknowledges the interconnectedness of all facets of our globe and daily lives. No matter how you decide to contribute to positive change in this world, you should know that it is all deeply and inevitably intertwined. An improvement on one problem supports change for another in direct and indirect ways.

Moose in Alaska (Alces alces)

While you are thinking about how you can contribute to this global kindness, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Sometimes the constant drive to make a difference can be confusing, complicated, and filled with uncertainty. Sometimes we can inadvertently put large amounts of stress on ourselves or our relationships. Give yourself the space to constantly learn and evolve. Remember — no one is perfect and no one can do everything. We all must work together. While you are being kind to the planet and all of the creatures living on it, always remember to be kind to yourself and those around you.

I hope we learn from the solidarity that has been conjured by this pandemic. I hope we harness it for empowerment, triggering a cascade of positive actions that can change our world for the better. In my experience, taking action for the things that are important to me has been empowering. That empowerment can be a brilliant source of invigorating positive energy, particularly in times when we feel utterly powerless. When we emerge from this crisis, I hope that we can continue to unite and pursue empowerment by taking action for positive change. Let’s change the way we see and engage with each other, our world, and the other animals living within it.

Thank you for your time and thoughts. I sincerely wish health and safety to everyone reading this. I have many resources saved regarding all of the issues mentioned in this short article and I would love to share them with you if you are interested!

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Resources to learn more:

A recent, short Scientific American interview about COVID-19, the wildlife trade, and human disease: https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/covid-19-the-wildlife-trade-and-human-disease/

A CDC page explaining zoonotic disease: https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/basics/zoonotic-diseases.html.

Karesh et al. Wildlife Trade and Global Disease Emergence. Emerging Infectious Diseases; 11 (7) 2005.



Mariah Rayfield Beck, class of 2020, will be starting a small animal rotating internship at Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in Rhode Island this summer. After that, she plans to specialize in wildlife and conservation medicine. She is also an educator that teaches about marine conservation in classes, workshops, and summer camps.

Going Batty: A New Perspective

A Big brown bat with her wing wrapped to stabilize a wing injury

When the average person thinks of a bat, many thoughts may cross their mind, most of them negative. These thoughts and feelings include fear, disgust, and more. People often think of them as “flying rats”, worry that all bats will drink their blood, or try to attack them. In fact, out of over 1,300 bat species, there are only three species of vampire bats that drink blood, while the vast majority of other species are insectivores or frugivores, meaning they eat insects or fruit and nectar. Bats are responsible for an incredible amount of insect control, improving public health by keeping the numbers of disease-carrying bugs, like mosquitoes, down. They also protect crops from insects, eliminating the need for massive amounts of pesticides. Frugivorous bats are important pollinators and seed dispensers, keeping plants and forests healthy. Other people have a fear of rabid bats, and while this can be a concern, just like any other mammal that can be a rabies vector, the vast majority of bats are rabies-free. Like many wild animals, bats are usually more scared of humans than we are of them.

A Hoary bat hangs in its cage

 I’ve learned all of this and more volunteering at Wild Things Sanctuary in Ithaca, NY, working with a variety of local bat species. Some of these species include Little brown bats, Big brown bats, Eastern red bats, and Hoary bats. While I wasn’t one to be disgusted or afraid of bats, I was definitely a little wary the first time I had to grab one out of its cage at Wild Things. Victoria Campbell, the founder, was patient as she instructed me and other volunteers on handling techniques. The majority of the bats that come in are Big brown bats, and even the largest of these can still fit in the palm of your hand. It’s hard to interact so closely with them and not eventually fall in love.

In the outdoor flight cage at Wild Things, bats are able to fly around, catching insects that make their way in, or eating the mealworms provided until they are strong enough to be released. If you visit the flight cage around dusk, you can sometimes see bats flying across, swerving around your head as their echolocation guides them through the enclosure. Sometimes, we turn on the bat monitor to hear the clicks of their echolocation as the bats go about their lives.

The outdoor flight cage at Wild Things Sanctuary

When the weather turns and the harsh Ithaca cold sets in, any bats that are not able to be released at that time are brought inside to be overwintered until the spring or summer when it is warm enough for them again. Many of these bats may hibernate much of the winter away in a room that is kept cold enough to allow them to sleep, much like the caves that these bats would inhabit naturally in the winter. Other bats are kept in heated cages to allow them to heal from injuries or to maintain their metabolism if they require treatments like antibiotics or pain medication. Bats are brought to Wild Things from all over the state. Oftentimes, Victoria will rely on the help of volunteers or other rehabilitators to bring bats part or all the way from more distant locations. 

Victoria Campbell is solely responsible for the care of the bats, and with the help of the occasional volunteer like myself, can take in and rehabilitate over one hundred bats in a year. This number could be even higher if bats were less misunderstood and people were as willing to help them as they were a baby bird or an injured squirrel. 

More than learning about bat species, husbandry, or fun facts I can throw out at a cocktail party, the biggest lesson I have learned working with these animals is just how misunderstood they are. They are not the blood-sucking flying terrors that many make them out to be. They have different personalities and rich social interactions with each other. Sometimes while treating them, they can be very vocal or try to fly away, but you can tell how scared they are to be injured in some unknown environment being handled by a large creature for an unknown reason.

Bats in the Northeast are increasingly threatened by white-nose syndrome. White-nose is a fungus that can grow on hibernating bats in caves and lead to their deaths. It is thought to do this by irritating bats enough to wake them up during hibernation, leading to them burning through their fat stores faster so they are unable to survive through the winter. It can also damage their wings, making flight impossible. Entire populations of bats in some areas have been wiped out by the fungus. In a time when we are facing great threats to wildlife both at home and globally, there is no better time to show some compassion to bats and other equally “undesirable” species. In the end, it benefits both those animals and you!

A group of Big brown bats rests in a “bat house”, a wooden shelter built by Victoria Campbell

To learn more about Wild Things Sanctuary and the work they do, visit their website: http://www.wildthingssanctuary.org/

Navigating Lemur Conservation in Madagascar

When I stepped onto the plane to Madagascar, I had no idea what to expect. Expanding Horizons has sent students on a wide variety of experiences, but never to this location. It is sometimes said that the only constant when working with wildlife is uncertainty; for me, that was an understatement.

I arrived in the capital city of Antananarivo with a definitive plan, developed along with Dr. Patricia Wright, primatologist and anthropologist from Stony Brook University. I would spend the first week at Centre ValBio, the research station founded by Dr. Wright in the continuous rainforest, observing and taking behavioral data on the lemurs that reside in Ranomafana National Park. Then, a team of Centre ValBio research technicians and I would travel to a remote area of forest fragments, dart and capture a group of greater bamboo lemurs, take biological samples for research purposes, and translocate the group of lemurs into the protected pristine rainforest of Ranomafana National Park. This project had three different goals. The first was a rescue mission for the threatened lemurs in the fragmented forest. The second was to collect data on this critically endangered and relatively unstudied species. The last goal was to increase genetic diversity in greater bamboo lemurs by introducing a new population to the two lemurs already in Ranomafana National Park. The rest of my summer would be spent processing samples and monitoring the group of lemurs as they adapted to their new environment, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, the trip to the fragmented forest was severely delayed, but I made the most of that time by working closely with my team in the design and management of the project and looking for ways to improve it. I met with the regional head of Malagasy National Parks, park rangers, and environmental administrators where we discussed the future of the national park in lemur conservation. At the research station I worked with researchers, veterinarians, and even botanists, both local and international, to assimilate their expertise into this lemur conservation project.

In the process of researching and networking, the scope of the project began to grow. We found funding for a humanitarian team to build a dam for the local villages near our target population and the botanists joined our team to examine the possibility of reconnecting the forest fragments with the continuous forest. We consulted the experts around us to figure out how to take full advantage of a single capture event by collecting a wide array of samples from each lemur. Together we set up a plan to establish long-term preliminary data prior to the translocation.

The overall goals of the project remained the same, but the timeline was elongated and incorporated more disciplines. Instead of doing the capture with sample collection and translocation all in one trip, an initial team would capture, sample, radio collar, and release the lemurs back into the fragmented forest. Then a team of technicians from the research station would remain at the site for at least five months to gather behavioral, nutritional, and hormonal data. In the future, once sufficient data is collected and it is deemed safe to transport the lemurs, another expedition will embark to capture the lemurs for translocation to the safety of Ranomafana National Park.

While I waited for the initial team to embark, I was lucky enough to join a different project where I operated small mammal traps to gather morphometric data on mouse lemurs and chased ring-tailed lemurs through the forests to collect fecal samples. This expedition took me to the undisturbed and utterly breathtaking Lost Rainforest of Crystal Mountain, which is even more Indiana Jones-esque than the name implies, but that is a story for another time.

After returning from the Lost Rainforest, I had a quick turnaround before embarking on my own team’s expedition to capture a group of greater bamboo lemurs. The journey was wrought with obstacles, both literal and metaphorical. These included driving three days over one of the worst roads in the world where the winches on our vehicles were exercised often, being stuck for five days in a hotel while we waited for a government official to send a single email that would allow us to progress, and almost being turned away by the villagers upon arrival to the fragmented forests. However, once we finally established our camp around the clay church in the village, we wasted no time in jumping into action. From the daily river crossings that required full pants removal to the herds of cattle that stumbled through our processing setup, nothing could stop us once we found our momentum. Our blowdart experts were bringing us lemurs faster than we could process them and we had a queue of lemurs patiently waiting their turn. Our processing team consisted of three vets (two from Germany and one from Madagascar), one parasitologist from the US, and myself and it only took us a couple of lemurs to become a well-oiled machine. Not only did we monitor anesthesia and conduct physical exams, but we also took a wide variety of samples including blood, hair, feces, swabs from every orifice, parasites, morphometrics, and even breath. In just two and a half days, we darted and processed 12 greater bamboo lemurs and it was glorious.

It was extremely fun and rewarding to work with the lemurs and to safely release them back into the forest, but what made the experience truly special was that we were actively championing the conservation of a critically endangered species. I hope that I am able to return to Madagascar next year to continue my work on the translocation of the lemurs, but even if I am unable to return, this past summer in Madagascar has been an extraordinary experience that I will never forget. As the Malagasy say, olombelona tsi akoho!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bekah Weatherington, class of 2021, is a Cornell DVM student from San Diego, CA. She has received her B.S. in biology and M.S. in biomedical sciences from Colorado State University. Bekah is interested in how veterinary medicine can be used as a tool in wildlife conservation. Her special interests include rehabilitation, aquatic species, and international field work.

An UnBELIZEable Experience

Laci examines an anesthetized jaguar prior to a procedure

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in a one-week experience at the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center through a course at Cornell called International Experience in Wildlife Health and Conservation. The course is a partnership between Cornell and the Belize Zoo in Central America. As an aspiring wildlife veterinarian, I found the course to be highly rewarding as it was unlike any other offered in the core veterinary curriculum. 

Laci feeds a tapir at the Belize Zoo

The Belize Zoo was started in 1983 by Sharon Matola to educate the people of Belize and tourists alike. One of the most interesting aspects of the Belize Zoo is that the entirety of its animals arrive as orphans or rescues and all of its animals are native species, many of which are at risk for extinction. Through educational programming, the zoo aims to dispel some of the negative stereotypes and myths engrained in Belizean culture that cause the public to intentionally harm or kill animals. One such myth is that the sighting of certain species of owls means that death is coming for someone close. The educational component of the zoo ultimately contributes to the preservation of many local endangered species populations.

While at the zoo, I worked with a wide variety of species ranging from spider monkeys to jaguars. Alongside some of Cornell’s veterinary faculty and the Belizean zookeepers, I was able to attend lectures, practice physical exam and clinical skills, take and analyze lab samples, as well as observe and assist in anesthesia and dentistry procedures. In just one week, I learned to insert my first catheter, participated in a dental extraction, gave preventative vaccines to a jaguar, ran diagnostic testing and bloodwork on a howler monkey, and performed an ultrasound on a puma amongst many other wonderful clinical experiences! One of my most memorable experiences was assisting in the dental procedure on one of the zoo’s jaguars. Before I wanted to be a veterinarian, I wanted to be a dentist, so this was an especially impactful opportunity. As a rising second year, I hadn’t yet learned about dentistry in the curriculum so assisting was a great hands-on introduction. During the procedure I learned about simple versus surgical extraction. The extraction on the jaguar was a surgical extraction which meant that the removal of the tooth required creation and elevation of a flap, and removal of bone. I watched the dentistry resident use many different dental surgery tools to remove the periodontal ligament from the tooth and I was able to loosen the last bit of periodontal ligament, ultimately “delivering”, or removing, the tooth! 

Xunantunich, a cultural site in Belize

When we weren’t working in the Belize Zoo Veterinary Clinic, the team immersed itself in the history, culture and traditions of Belize. One such experience was a trip to Xunantunich, an ancient Maya archaeological site in Western Belize consisting of four major architectural groups. Additionally, we traveled to San Ignacio, Belize to a marketplace where farmers, traders and vendors from all walks of Belizean life gather. 

My desire to make a global impact as a wildlife veterinarian drew me to this opportunity and participating only reaffirmed this desire. The course at the Belize Zoo allowed both students and faculty to broaden their veterinary experiences by providing veterinary care to zoo animals all  while learning about Belize’s conservation efforts. It is a course I highly recommend!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laci Taylor, class of 2022, is a DVM student at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She is interested in wildlife and aquatic medicine and hopes to make a global impact as a wildlife veterinarian. Laci hopes to promote biodiversity through rehabilitation and conservation – fields that serve as pathways for understanding many pertinent issues today from the transmission of zoonotic diseases which affect public health, to restoring endangered species.

My Introduction to Marine Mammal Medicine

Four dolphins jump gracefully out of the water at Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, Florida

Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, Florida is a not-for-profit organization that offers dolphin-assisted therapy programs to children, adults with special needs, and their families and caregivers. The founders, Deena and Peter Hoagland, created the organization back in 1997 after their son personally experienced the healing powers that dolphin-assisted therapy can offer. At the age of 3, the Hoagland’s son, Joe, suffered a stroke while undergoing his third open-heart surgery resulting in severe weakness on the left side of his body. The Hoagland’s eventually brought Joe to a local dolphin swim facility where he interacted with dolphins as a form of physical therapy. Over time, Joe was able to make a full recovery because of a special bond with a dolphin named Fonzie, which inspired Deena and Peter to provide the same opportunity for others.

Performing a routine physical exam on one of the dolphins

In addition to providing therapy swims, Island Dolphin Care hosts approximately 80 students throughout the year from various fields to participate in an introduction to marine mammal medicine course. Students enrolled gain hands-on experience in the veterinary care of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins while learning about their anatomy and behavior. Veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and trainers work directly with the students in small groups to educate the next generation of marine mammal enthusiasts. As an aspiring marine mammal and aquatic-focused veterinarian, this introductory experience proved to be truly invaluable and served as an excellent introduction to marine mammal medicine in a real-life clinical setting.

As a first-year veterinary student, I was very nervous and unsure of my potential for success in this program. I hadn’t completed any advanced clinical or diagnostic courses yet and my hands-on veterinary experience up to that point was limited to domestic terrestrial species. However, I felt reassured upon arriving when I discovered that my classmates, all with different backgrounds and experiences, had never worked with dolphins in a clinical setting either.

Danny entices a dolphin to demonstrate one of its learned behaviors

Every morning, students started their day in the commissary to learn about the feeding protocols. Different fish species were fed in different ratios for nutritional and enrichment purposes and to promote learned behaviors. For example, fatty herring was a large component of most diets because of the high omega-3 fatty acid content. Following this, we would normally make our way to the pool to begin our physical exams. Every day, each student was assigned a different dolphin to conduct a physical exam on. My two favorite dolphins to work with were Sarah and Squirt, the two matriarchs of the pod, because they consistently reminded the trainers that the dolphins were in charge of the relationship. Students were tasked with obtaining relevant history and information from the different trainers prior to their exam and were expected to write full reports with recommended treatments following the exams. We were also charged with evaluating current medications, the purpose for treatment, and recommending changes should any be necessary. I remember my surprise in finding out that female dolphin reproductive physiology is so similar to that of horses, that female dolphins can also take Regumate as a form of birth control while in captivity.

Danny performs an abdominal ultrasound

Throughout the week, we also attended lectures focusing on dolphin digestive and reproductive anatomy, how to perform diagnostic testing procedures, and on the learned behaviors that are critical for both medical procedures and enrichment. This information was then used to perform daily ultrasounds on the dolphins. Outside of a basic introduction as a technician before school and then briefly again in school, I barely had any experience with ultrasonography. Despite my lack of prior training, before my week at Island Dolphin Care was over, I was able to conduct a complete digestive and reproductive ultrasound on a dolphin and write a report on my findings.

Later in the week, we were taught how to draw blood from a dolphin’s ventral superficial fluke vein, make a blood smear, and perform cell counts. We also learned how to evaluate erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test results. This test, which isn’t commonly used in terrestrial veterinary medicine, is a crucial marine mammal diagnostic tool used to detect an inflammatory response by measuring how quickly erythrocytes can settle in a tube overtime.

I’ll never forget the time I spent at Island Dolphin Care because I was able to learn crucial hands-on techniques early in my veterinary education that will help make me a better and more prepared veterinarian. Having learned these skills at a facility like Island Dolphin Care only made the experience more unique and meaningful.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Danny Ruvolo, class of 2022, is a veterinary student originally from Staten Island, New York. Danny received his B.S. in Biology with minors in chemistry and psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and his M.B.S. from Rutgers University School of Graduate Studies. He is interested in exotic, zoo, and aquarium medicine and aspires to one day treat as many species as he can.

 

So you want to get a pet bird…

A pair of scarlet macaws

Birds make wonderful companions, since they are such social and vocal animals. However, there are some considerations that every new bird owner should make before deciding to take on a lifelong, feathery companion. Yes, birds can live a long time, so owning a bird is a long-term, sometimes even lifelong commitment! Smaller species such as budgies and cockatiels can live for 20 years, while larger parrot species can live up to 50 years. Additionally, birds tend to have extremely social natures, and can therefore, develop self-destructive or aggressive behavioral problems if they are not adequately socialized.

Different species of birds have varying needs, and depending on your lifestyle, one type of bird may be a much better option for you than another. So before you purchase the toys, bird seed, and housing, you have to decide on which bird you’d like to make your companion. Here are some common pet bird species and some things you should consider before you choose the bird that you want to share your home with.

A pair of wild budgerigars

Budgerigars and cockatiels are, by far, the best companions for novice birders, due largely to their small size and ease of care. They are very clever and social birds, and a lot of fun.

Budgerigars (budgies) are the most abundant psittacine species in the world. Originally from Australia, these small birds are generally easy to keep. Their needs are easily met in captivity, and they tend to be great pets. Adult males have blue ceres (the fleshy covering just above their beak that includes nostrils), while adult females have tan colored ceres.

Cockatiels are the smallest of all the cockatoo species. They have a characteristic, movable crest on their head. Also from Australia, these birds are highly social and often live in large, nomadic flocks in the wild. Like the budgie, their needs are easily met in captivity. Because of their gregarious nature, they bond and interact with humans very well and tend to be great pets. Adult females are grey in color, while adult males have a yellow face with a grey body. Females have a tendency to become chronic egg layers, but be advised that you should not remove the eggs. These birds have a feedback mechanism that tells them to brood over a clutch of eggs and to stop further egg laying, but if the eggs are constantly being removed, the hen continues to lay them, resulting in depleted calcium reserves. Also, sexual activity in these birds can be stimulated by dark nesting places or mushy food, which can sometimes lead to aggression.

Sulfur-crested cockatoo

Cockatoos are both much larger and louder than cockatiels. There are about 30 different species of cockatoos, each with their own characteristics. Generally speaking, these birds form very close pair bonds, and their highly social nature can make them more difficult to care for in captivity. They are very smart, and can learn that loud vocalizations result in receiving attention, making them one of the most commonly relinquished pet bird species. Cockatoos may also develop some negative behaviors, such as feather picking. Also, if someone in the household has allergies, be aware that these birds tend to have lots of powder down feathers, which can produce a lot of dust.

Conures are a group of small to medium sized parrots, but don’t let their small stature fool you, it is not representative of their volume. These birds are very loud, and, like the cockatoos, are also often given up within the first year of ownership.

Eclectus parrots and lovebirds tend to have more aggressive females than males. Wild female eclectus parrots are typically the birds that defend the nesting cavity, while the males forage and bring back food. Hence, the hens tend to be more dominant and aggressive than the males. Lovebirds in general tend to be aggressive towards other bird species as well, so avoid keeping them together with other bird species.

Amazon parrots are intelligent, outgoing species. Potential amazon owners should be aware that male amazons, around the time of sexual maturity and each subsequent breeding season (springtime), can become aggressive. They can also be aggressive when stressed. African grey parrots, on the other hand, are a more introspective species, and when they are stressed, tend to develop self destructive behaviors, such as feather plucking/destruction, rather than become aggressive towards other animals and people.

Macaws are the largest of the parrot species. They are highly intelligent and full of energy, which can make them a challenging pet for an inexperienced bird handler. They also have a very strong bite, so housing and toys need to be selected carefully.

An African grey parrot

Remember, when looking for your bird companion, to look for reputable breeders. Illegal poaching and smuggling of many of the above named species is a real issue, and contributes to the decline of wild populations. A good and reputable breeder, however, will properly care for and socialize the chicks to humans prior to your obtaining the bird, which reduces risk of the development of aggressive behaviors.

Once you’ve made the decision on which bird you want to love and interact with at home, then you can think about your bird’s toys, food, and housing. Remember that a lot of the husbandry is based on the bird’s natural history.

More social species tend to do well with companions, but remember that the birds need the ability to move away from each other if necessary. If they cannot move away from each other because their housing is too small, the birds can become stressed and develop disease.

When considering cages, always remember that it should be large enough for the bird to completely spread its wings without touching sides of cage. The bird should be able to move around and exercise within the confines of its home. One should also consider the strength of the cage if one is bringing home a bird with a strong bite, like a macaw. Make sure it’s a cage that you can easily clean and keep hygienic for the animal.

Stock the cage with toys and perches appropriate for the species that you are housing. Provide a box or nest area for the bird to hide when it is stressed. Provide perches without abrasive surfaces and made out of a safe, untreated wood material, because sometimes birds may chew on their wooden perches. The perch should be large enough that when wrapping their toes around it, the bird’s toes cover 75% of the perch’s circumference, allowing for even distribution of the bird’s weight. Never place their food and water directly below a perch, because birds will invariably poop in it.

A pair of rainbow lorikeets

Make sure you understand and provide the optimal environmental condition for your species of bird. The vast majority of psittacine species come from tropical locations around the world, so generally, keep them warm and provide a heat source. However, different birds have different requirements, so make sure you understand heating, lighting, humidity, noise level, and nutritional/dietary specifications for your bird. For example, while most parrots are granivorous, meaning that they feed on fresh fruits, veggies, and seeds, the lory and lorikeet species are nectivorous, so they require a specialized nectar diet. Remember that seed alone is not a sufficient diet for any parrot species. Make sure you speak to your veterinarian about how to provide an adequately balanced diet for your avian companion.

Remember that psittacine species tend to be very highly social and active birds. In the wild, they spend much of their time looking for food and communicating with conspecifics. Therefore, in captivity, they need to be given lots of socialization time, as well as challenges to solve to reduce any chances of development of destructive behaviors. Providing food in foraging toys or challenge boxes will help provide some enrichment for your feathery friend.

Always remember to consult your local exotics veterinarian with any husbandry or health related questions about your new companion!


Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge the various professors and veterinarians that I personally have learned about bird care from, who have enriched my avian education, and especially Dr. Donna Muscarella, who inspired the idea for this article, and aided my writing it.


For more information please check out the following websites:

The World Parrot Trust: www.parrots.org  – Check out his website for more detailed information regarding characteristics and care of various parrot species.

Good Bird Inc. http: www.goodbirdinc.com  – Check out this website for information on companion parrot behavior and positive reinforcement methods to reinforce the parrot-human bond.


Note: All images were taken from the public domain.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Nasr, class of 2020, is from Staten Island, NY. She received her Bachelor of Science from Rutgers University in 2016, with a major in Animal Science. She is passionate about zoo and wildlife medicine, conservation, and education, and aspires to build a career around zoo/wildlife surgery and anesthesia.

From Bees to Big Cats at the Special Species Symposium 2019

A banner welcomes students to the Symposium

Conservation, exotics, and wildlife are increasingly popular fields within veterinary medicine and last week Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine hosted the Special Species Symposium to shine a light on various topics within these fields. The Special Species Symposium brought speakers from a variety of backgrounds as well as students from Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Montreal together to discuss zoo, exotic, and wildlife medicine.

Dr. Robin Radcliffe presents about bee health

Topics discussed ranged from utilizing pathology in conservation to antibiotic therapy in pocket pets to marine mammal rehabilitation. Students also had the opportunity to participate in a number of wet labs including invertebrate clinical skills, darting, turtle shell repair, and avian orthopedics. The symposium opened on Saturday with a lecture from Dr. Robin Radcliffe about honey bee health and the developing role of veterinarians in honey bee management. Dr. Radcliffe discussed the agricultural and economic value of bees and the new federal regulations that require veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics for bee colonies. For the rest of the symposium we got to choose which speakers we wanted to listen to. I listened to Dr. Karen Terio’s lecture, where she discussed the importance of pathology in conservation and how it contributes to species health. She finished by advising those aspiring to work in conservation to develop a skill and use that to market themselves.

Dr. Terio was followed by Dr. Peter DiGeronimo, who gave a lecture on marine mammal rehabilitation and how it affects ocean health. He described how rehabilitation can have conservation, scientific, and social benefits. Wildlife rehabilitators have the most contact with free-ranging wildlife, and can act as sentinels to monitor emerging diseases arising in wild populations. This is especially important in species with low population numbers because the individuals that are able to be returned to the wild have even greater impacts on the species as a whole. He emphasized the role that wildlife rehabilitation centers can play in providing data about various species that researchers may not be able to gather. Finally, he stressed the importance of researchers establishing good relationships with rehabilitators to break down the distrust that some have regarding the motives of researchers.

One of the last lectures on Saturday was on the care and conservation of large felids, given by Dr. Michael McEntire. He discussed various aspects of managing large felids in captivity such as the necessary housing requirements,  safety protocols, and restraint techniques. He emphasized the importance of behavioral restraint which involves training animals in certain ways to make them easier to handle and decrease the associated stress. For example, you can train them to present their tails for blood draws or their flanks for injections, and in this way avoid having to anesthetize them for what should be relatively simple procedures. Then Dr. McEntire transitioned to felid diseases such as vitamin A deficiency, myelopathy in cheetahs, and canine distemper virus in lions. Other lectures given on Saturday included an overview of amphibian diagnostics, a session of clinical updates from the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center, and an update on emerging infectious diseases in reptiles.

Demonstration of how to handle invertebrates, such as the tarantula pictured

During the Saturday afternoon lab sessions, I participated in the invertebrate clinical skills lab. The lab was split between arachnids and marine invertebrates. We learned proper handling techniques of arachnids and how to identify common health problems such as dehydration, or how to ensure the tarantula is able to molt appropriately. We also learned ways a clinician could correct these issues or advise an owner in correcting them. Additionally, we were taught proper anesthesia protocols for lobsters and learned some necessary anatomy for horseshoe crabs and various bivalves including oysters and clams.

Attending students from all schools pose after the first day of the symposium

The highlight of Saturday, and the symposium in general, was the keynote speaker Dr. Susan Bartlett. Dr. Bartlett is a veterinarian for the Wildlife Conservation Society and she discussed her path to getting that position. She explained how she dealt with various hurdles on her journey, such as having to reapply to veterinary school after not getting in the first time. She emphasized the importance of persistence and shared an anecdote of how she worked at a zoo scooping poop in order to gain elephant experience. Her determination eventually gave her the opportunity to accompany a research team and travel internationally to study elephants. Additionally, Dr. Bartlett discussed how the TV show, The Zoo, has helped to improve public perception of the Bronx Zoo as it sheds light on the amount of work and care zoo professionals dedicate to their animals.  

Dr. Noha Abou-Madi discusses EEHV

The next day of lectures and labs was just as interesting as the first. It opened with a talk by Katy Payne about whale and elephant communication. She discussed how novel it was to discover in the 1960’s that whales actually sing and the work she has done to analyze these songs. Male whales in the same area sing very similar songs that change every breeding season, and even throughout the season. It is theorized that female whales prefer inventiveness which drives the evolution of the songs over time. Dr. James Morrissey followed with a talk comparing GI stasis and obstruction in rabbits. He taught those in attendance how to identify one versus the other, and the best way to treat these differing conditions. Dr. Lauren Powers of Carolina Veterinary Specialists, went through how to effectively perform a neurological exam on avian patients. She played videos demonstrating different tests and explained what abnormal results might indicate. Finally, Dr. Noha Abou-Madi discussed the tragic occurrence of Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) and how it manifested in zoos over 20 years ago. This virus can be devastating and has unfortunately killed a number of baby, mostly Asian, elephants. Dr. Abou-Madi detailed her role in researching and trying to culture EEHV. She also explained the current preemptive protocols in place that attempt to identify when an elephant calf contracts the virus, so treatment can begin before clinical signs emerge. She ended on a message of hope, because even though the virus is still unable to be cultured, there is increasing success in saving calves who contract the virus and research is ongoing to potentially develop a vaccine.

Students are shown the frames from a beekeeper’s hives

In the afternoon, I attended two labs. The first was a tour of the Cornell Bee Labs and the second was an avian orthopedics lab. The tour of the Bee Lab fit in nicely with Dr. Radcliffe’s Saturday lecture. We were able to see more in depth how beekeepers manage their hives and some of the problems that can occur. In the avian orthopedics lab, we learned how to place an intraosseus catheter, and how to set both a humeral and femoral fracture in birds.

Overall, the Special Species Symposium was an incredible opportunity to hear from top professionals in the fields of zoo, exotics, and wildlife medicine. It also provided a unique opportunity to network not just with Cornell students with similar interests, but also with students from other schools.

 

Cornell hosts the Special Species Symposium every 2 years.  For more information on the 2019 Special Species Symposium, visit the website here.