Seventy vets from 40 zoos across China gathered in Changchun to meet with veterinary experts from zoos across Europe.
Coordinated by Heather Bacon, a veterinary surgeon at the University of Edinburgh’s Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, along with the Animals Asia charity, the zoo vet training workshop covered topics including; zoo animal health and welfare; control of infectious diseases; zoo animal anaesthesia; and zoo animal nutrition and recognition and management of pain.
The veterinary profession is still in its infancy in China with a standardised veterinary examination only introduced in vet schools as recently as 2010.
No undergraduate or postgraduate education in zoo animal veterinary care is available.
The workshop aimed to improve captive wildlife care at zoos across China through effective education, and to support the development of international standards of conservation and zoo animal care in China, thus reducing both animal suffering and the trade in endangered wildlife.
Participating experts included Carsten Grondhal from Copenhagen Zoo, Jean-Michel Hatt from the University of Zurich, Jacques Kandoorp from Beekse Bergen Safari Park and Romain Pizzi from the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
Miss Bacon said, “Chinese zoos have traditionally been isolated from conservation and welfare developments in zoos around the world.
“By empowering zoo veterinarians with the knowledge and skills to act as ambassadors for animal conservation, health and welfare, we can support improved zoo animal welfare through improved policy and practice.”
Animals Asia is a non-profit organisation, committed to improving the lives of animals across Asia.
Its programmes focus on education and awareness-raising to highlight the significant problems created by the legal and illegal wildlife trade, particularly the farming of bears for bile (an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine).
Recognising China is a hotspot for the illegal wildlife trade, and that animal welfare and conservation education is lacking among Chinese zoos, Animal Asia has spent several years developing a strong relationship in the country, promoting animal welfare and conservation through education.