Thanks to a grant from the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, Nature Iraq recently completed a conservation education project to improve the condition of animals in captivity - and raise awareness about the health of zoo animals and the requirements for building rehabilitation centers in the country. The project was offered to veterinarians and zoo staff from all parts Iraq.
Participants were trained on the latest techniques for wildlife treatment in the field and in zoos. The course covered diagnosis, medications, and preventive measures to protect wild animals from disease. During the training, Iraqi veterinarians were able to practice darting (blow-pipe and gun) for the first time. This practice is used to tranquilize the animals so that they may receive beneficial medical care in a less stressful manner. All of the animals that were darted were given a quick treatment such as antibiotics or bug removing spray.
Class participants also discussed the different issues facing wildlife today and the many challenges they face in this work. Efforts were made to raise awareness in zoo staff about the importance of proper animal care and maintenance.For many involved, the project provided a rare opportunity to work with an expert on wildlife species and learn about what other institutions are doing. The participants were clearly excited about what they had learned during the training - and expressed an interest in building connections between their universities, Nature Iraq, and the trainer for future work with wild animals.
As the project continues, the team will focus on developing stronger relationships with local stakeholders, governmental personnel, and other environmental institutions in an effort to improve animal conservation and welfare throughout Iraq.