What is "Wildlife Surgery"?
Wildlife Surgery encompasses the surgical care of all non-domestic animal species, whether they are free-ranging in the wild, or in temporary care for rehabilitation and release after an injury, or those that are kept permanently in captivity for conservation and other purposes. While the word wildlife conjures up visions of large dangerous and exotic animals such as tigers, it is worth remembering that birds and other small animals are also wildlife. Surgery, as a discipline, is not just about the operations we perfrom on our animal patients, but also about the care before and after operations, and all the decision making and care that surrounds surgery, from optimising safe anaesthesia, to the correct nutrition to ensure rapid recovery and healing.
What is our vision?
We believe that all veterinary treatment, including wildlife surgery should be of the highest clinical standard, and based on the best scientific evidence. It should uphold the highest standards of animal welfare, even when of conservation importance, and have a good likelihood of a successful outcome. We believe that wildlife surgery should be audited to ensure optimum outcomes and welfare. In keeping with these goals wildlife surgery should aim to be as minimally invasive in nature and cost effective as possible. We believe that wildlife surgical procedures should be of a clear benefit to the animals, and not be undertaken in cases where less invasive or non-surgical treatments will bear equal or better results.
How do we go about this?
• By providing scientific information, educational material, and training to wildlife veterinarians needing to undertake surgery on wild animals
• By perfroming wildlife surgery in selected cases for other established wildlife and conservation charities where these require specialist wildlife surgical expertese
• By developing surgical techniques to improve outcomes and optimise animal welfare
• By assisting with donations of equipment needed for veterinarians undertaking wildlife surgery in the field
• By contributing to the scientific evidence base of veterinary surgical procedures and interventions through research and publication to improve outcomes and animal welfare
• By formulating guidelines and protocols on best clinical practice for wildlife surgery
• By auditing the welfare and surgical outcomes of wild animals undergoing procedures
• By formulating ethical guidelines in wildlife surgery and decision making
What is this website for?
There is a real need for advances in wildlife surgical science, knowledge, and specialist skills. From optimising how snare wounds heal in chimpanzees, to the best methods of repairing wild turtles shells after motorboat trauma, there are so many cases crying out for help.
While PubMed (the database of biomedical literature) lists over 23,000 articles when one enters the search for "veterinary surgery", when one adds the term "wildlife" to the search, the results plummit to less than 100. On on closer examination, the majority of these articles are case reports of a single operation in a single animal, with only a handful consisting of series of cases. In contrast human surgery (one gets over 2.5 million results if searching for "human surgery" in PubMed) consists of huge studies with thousands of patients in even the smallest studies. It is always going to be difficult for wildlife surgery to progress in the same scientific way that human surgery has.
Wildlife Surgery is a charitable initiative, that aims to improve the surgical treatment of all wildlife patients, by providing scientific research, education, and when needed specialist wildlife surgical expertese internationally.
Over time we aim to provide useful scientific references, standardised protocols for different conditions, useful resources such as videos, illustrations, and helpful links and contacts for veterinarians working with wildlife all over the world.