When an animal in a zoo becomes sick with a new or unusual disease, “it’s like a canary in a coal mine,” says wildlife epidemiologist Dominic Travis, D.V.M. “It’s an immediate sign that there could be trouble ahead if we’re not able to quickly determine the cause and change course.”
Having recently returned from a gathering of international ape conservation leaders, Travis, a specialist in wildlife veterinary medicine and epidemiology at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine, feels energized for discussions around how disease transfers where humans and apes meet.
Travis is part of a national initiative investigating health issues at the interface of humans, wildlife, domestic animals and the environment. His research is part of a renewed international interest in the wildlife-human disease connection.
“It’s no longer debatable that the health of non-human primates, people and tourists nearby is inextricably linked,” said Travis.