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National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and Central Zoo Authority of India Launch Advanced Training Program

Officials from the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and the Central Zoo Authority from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of the Republic of India signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today, March 17, to launch an advanced professional training program focusing on zoo animal husbandry and medicine. The MOU, for one year, was signed by Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo, and D.N. Singh, member secretary of Central Zoo Authority of India, at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

I was lucky enough to travel to India last year and see critically endangered rhinos, and that experience was inspiring, said Dennis Kelly, director of the National Zoo. We have worked with colleagues in India for decades, and now with this program we'll be collaborating even more closely to understand and protect endangered animals.

As part of the advanced training program, scientists, veterinarians and other animal care professionals from the National Zoo and SCBI will host training courses for animal care professionals working in Indian zoos. Topics will range from preventive medicine to comprehensive animal nutrition. Scientists will also collaborate on wildlife health and disease surveillance, which will range from administering anesthesia to animals in zoos and in the field, to containing and preventing the spread of contagious diseases in wild animals. The MOU will enable both parties to create conservation strategies that integrate sustainable development practices for all highly endangered species and species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List native to India. All of the research and training courses will be conducted in India.

National Zoo and SCBI veterinarians and pathologists are board certified in zoological medicine by the American College of Zoological Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. In the United States, they participate in many of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plans (SSP) for endangered species. Several scientists at SCBI serve as SSP coordinators, managing populations of endangered animals living in human care to create the most genetically diverse populations possible.