Dr Roberto Fecchio performs a dental exam on an anaesthetised kinkajou.
Veterinarians at São Paulo Zoo perform an annual medical health check on an otter.
Students monitor the anaesthesia of a Brazilian tapir at Campinas Zoo.
Glass-fronted primate enclosure at São Paulo Zoo in Brazil.
São Paulo Zoo island enclosures.
NZG veterinarian teaches wildlife vets in Brazil
In October 2011, I was invited by the Brazilian Association of Wildlife Veterinarians (ABRAVAS) to teach a series of lectures on the immobilisation and anaesthesia of zoo and wild animals at their annual conference in Campinas.
I was kindly hosted by Dr Roberto Fecchio, 2011 President of ABRAVAS, who currently teaches veterinary dentistry at the University of São Paulo.
ABRAVAS, which was founded 20 years ago, now boasts a membership of almost 800 veterinarians. The ABRAVAS 2011 congress attracted more than 300 veterinarians and veterinary students from across Brazil. Most of the delegates were relatively young but very passionate about wildlife and environmental issues.
Capture, immobilisation and anaesthesia of carnivores and primates
Two mornings were set aside for my lectures at the preconference sessions. The main focus was on the capture, immobilisation and anaesthesia of carnivores and primates, as Brazil is home to a number of these species.
After the morning lectures the delegates were taken to Campinas Zoo for a practical session. We got to demonstrate the anaesthesia on two rather unique South American species, namely a Brazilian tapir and a kinkajou. Due to strict drug laws, Brazilian veterinarians have access to only a limited range of drugs with which they can anaesthetise wild animals. They nevertheless confirmed the truth of an old saying in anaesthesiology: The safest drugs are those that you are most familiar with.
Besides giving lectures, I had a couple of extra days to visit two zoos and a state-run wildlife rehabilitation centre. Despite its relatively small size, Sorocaba Zoo, located approximately 90 km southeast from São Paulo, provides a beautiful haven in the centre of the city and boasts an impressive level of animal husbandry and care.
Notable collection of endangered species
The zoo has a notable collection of endangered species, including the very rare Woolly spider monkey (Brachyteles arachnoides), endemic to Brazil. The much larger São Paulo Zoo was truly impressive, with eight full-time veterinarians and zoo standards that could easily match those of most European or North American Zoos.
Besides having the opportunity to share my own knowledge and experiences with a fine group of enthusiastic veterinarians, I also got to meet some remarkable people such as Dr Alcides Pissinatti, Head of the Centre of Primatology in Rio de Janeiro.
In many ways we face the same type of challenges and it is my hope that veterinarians from Brazil and South Africa will have more opportunities to share their experiences and collaborate in a meaningful way.
Dr Adrian Tordiffe, Veterinarian, NZG
The National Zoological Gardens of
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