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UC Davis launches 'One Health' care for wild mountain gorillas and human neighbors
Date:4/23/2009

families. In particular, veterinarians worry that people could transmit illnesses, such as common colds or measles, to the gorillas.

The gorillas have an economic impact on the governments of Rwanda and Uganda and the communities that surround the parks in which the gorillas live. Gorilla ecotourism is a significant source of revenue, but the gorillas sometimes range outside park boundaries and raid farmers' crops.

"The complexity of the issues surrounding mountain gorilla health and conservation spurred the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project to seek new ties with an academic institution that could provide expertise in human medicine, veterinary medicine and agriculture," Gilardi said. "UC Davis was the perfect fit."

The move of the gorilla project to UC Davis had the full support and encouragement of its previous administrative home, The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

"The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project has truly made a difference for the gorillas and for their continued existence, while spreading important conservation messages," said Don Hutchinson, interim president/CEO of The Maryland Zoo. "UC Davis now has the opportunity to expand the reach of MGVP and showcase the interconnectedness between animal and habitat conservation and the overall health of humans worldwide. This is a win-win situation for all involved."

The Mountain Gorilla One Health Program will create expanded research opportunities for UC Davis veterinary, medical and graduate students both in Davis and in the gorillas' habitat within Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The program will also allow veterinary staff and biologists from these countries to obtain advanced clinical and scientific training.

"Mountain gorillas are majestic and powerful creatures, susceptible to the same problems threatening the health of local communities and the globe," said Wildlife Health Center director Jonna Mazet.
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Contact: Sylvia Wright
swright@ucdavis.edu
530-752-7704
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

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