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|AZA Veterinary Advisory Group|
Information by Julia E. Napier, DVM
The concept of the Veterinary Advisory Group (VAG) originated with the Infectious Disease Committee of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) and the Conservation and Science Department of AZA (formerly AAZPA) in 1993. The need for such a group was highlighted at the 1992 International Conference on Implications of Infectious Diseases for Captive Propagation and Reintroduction Programs of Threatened Species. This meeting, held in Oakland, California, was sponsored by AZA, AAZV, and the Captive Breeding Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission (CBSG/IUCN/SSC). It emphasized the impact of disease on reintroduction projects and highlighted the importance of risk assessment. A general lack of information on 1) incidence, distribution and risks of disease in captive and wild populations, 2) effective quarantine protocols necessary to prevent disease transmission, and 3) definitive diagnostic tests to detect and monitor disease has resulted in the lack of a working database for informed risk assessment. The notion of a Veterinary Advisor to each SSP/TAG program was put forward as a way to generate and collect this missing information.
Administratively, The VAG is a subcommittee of AZA's Animal Health Committee (AHC) and was established with 3 main goals in mind:
1) To act as a support and advisory body for SSP/TAG Veterinary Advisors;
2)To act as a source of information for protocols concerning the roles and responsibilities of Veterinary Advisors; and
3)To serve as an informational resource on veterinary issues that may impact conservation programs.
Anneke Moresco spent the last year doing post doctoral work at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW). Anneke and colleagues participated in a conservation and reproduction project for the black-footed cat in South Africa. See the spotlight HERE. Photo credit Dr. Alex Sliwa (curator at the Cologne zoo)