The Bronx Zoo's Wildlife Health Center, which opened in 1985 and was recently expanded to over 30,000 square feet with the construction of an adjacent Quarantine Facility, is a renowned teaching and research hospital that implements the latest medical and surgical treatment technologies and on-site pathology diagnostic capabilities and serves as a touchstone for training the next generation of zoological health professionals.
Whether treating a tiny fish or a five-ton elephant, our veterinary clinicians and pathologists deliver expert diagnostic and emergency care to a diverse array of terrestrial and aquatic species. We care for more than 16,000 fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals of over 1,000 species at WCS's five New York City facilities—the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, and the Central Park, Queens, and Prospect Park Zoos. The 15,000 sq. ft. Aquatic Animal Health Center at the New York Aquarium and the veterinary clinics at the Central Park, Queens, and Prospect Park Zoos serve as our bases in each park.
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The WCS’ Pathology Department is one of oldest and one of only a few zoo-based, exotic animal and wildlife diagnostic pathology services in the world. As leaders in the field of zoo animal and wildlife pathology, and in conjunction with WCS's clinical and field veterinarians, curatorial scientists, and field scientists, our pathologists are uniquely positioned to investigate diseases (including those that are emergent), of captive and free-ranging terrestrial and marine animals in WCS's NY-based collections and wild animals around the globe. Primary anatomic pathology activities include gross necropsy examination and microscopy, which form the critical foundation upon which all of our diagnostic investigations are based. The addition in 2010 of an in-house molecular diagnostics laboratory provides enhanced options for diagnosis and discovery of pathogens of conservation concern, and the development of tools for detecting rare and endangered species through the use of environmental DNA and for species identification in illegally traded wildlife products. Training opportunities include an anatomic pathology residency and fellowship, and post-doctoral training in molecular diagnostics.
The dedicated staff of our Pathology Department consists of three veterinary pathologists with specialty certification in anatomic and clinical pathology, a veterinary pathology resident or fellow, post-doctoral molecular diagnostics fellows, a pathology technician, two histology technicians, and a medical records specialist. Facilities and equipment include a large necropsy suite, full-service histology laboratory, molecular diagnostics laboratory, extensive biomaterials archives and training resource materials, multi-headed microscope, digital imaging equipment, offices, a conference room, and a library.
Aquatic Health Department
In conjunction with the opening in 2018 of the New York Aquarium’s Ocean Wonders: SHARKs exhibit, the Aquatic Health Department was established. This new department, which includes a two full time veterinarians, a veterinary pathologist, pathology fellow, technicians and other support staff, provides expert care for a bewildering array of aquatic vertebrate and invertebrate species and terrestrial and marine mammals and birds. Aquarium veterinarians perform complex diagnostic, surgical, and follow-up care and oversee water quality analyses, and microscopy, hematology, histology and additional diagnostics. Facilities include isolation wards with five-foot-deep pools that hold mammals in freshwater, seawater, or brackish water.
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/ WCS