Revealing the unseen: the amazing world of wildlife pathology

12 January 2021, 18:00 - 19:30

Pathology is the science of diagnosing and characterising diseases by observing the physical changes they induce in animal cells and tissues, either in living (biopsies) or, more commonly in the veterinary world, dead animals (post mortems). During this event, ZSL's experienced pathologists and scientists will demonstrate how they use these techniques to peer into this unseen, internal world where the immune system fights wars of attrition against hordes of invading bacteria, viruses hide with the body's own cells and environmental pollutants corrupt vital chemical reactions. ZSL's wildlife veterinary pathologist will discuss the practicalities of performing post mortem examinations on zoo animals, from massive elephants down to the tiniest invertebrates. Using video footage and live microscopy, the audience will be able to follow the process from the pathologist’s perspective. The evening will then shift to the vets and scientists working in pathology at ZSL's Institute of Zoology, who will describe how they discovered a fungal skin disease affecting wild snakes in Europe; how they investigate the deaths of whales, dolphins and sharks that wash up on British coasts; and finish with the forensic work used to protect Britain's most endangered species.

Please be aware that this event features some graphic images and video of post mortem examinations, viewer discretion is advised.


  • Dr Simon Spiro, Wildlife Veterinary Pathologist, Wildlife Health Services, ZSL: "From echinoderms to elephants - an introduction to zoo and wildlife pathology"
  • Dr Becki Lawson, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, ZSL: "How pathological investigations helped us detect snake fungal disease in Europe"
  • Dr Tammy Shadbolt, Wildlife Veterinarian and Research Associate, Institute of Zoology, ZSL: "Protecting Britain's endangered species"




Catch up on the event below or visit:

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Science and Conservation Event Details:

  • This interactive online event was livestreamed to our YouTube channel, which can be found here:, alongside recordings of all our previous online events.
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  • Each event will comprise of 3-4 presentations from experts in the topic, similar to our previous event series.
  • Thank you to everyone who submitted a question - we encourage you to watch our events live so you can take part!
  • There was no charge for this event, and no need to register in advance to watch the livestream.
  • This event was produced by Eleanor Darbey, hosted by Charlotte Coales and facilitated by Tendai Pottinger and Linda DaVolls.


ZSL Wild Science Podcast

We will be creating a fascinating podcast episode featuring some of the speakers from this event, so keep an ear out in the following months! Listen to previous episodes from our award winning ZSL Wild Science podcast episodes produced by Dr Monika Böhm, and Eleanor Darbey here


Further Information

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