Wildlife health


Identifying disease threats to wildlife and understanding their impacts is a core area of our work, and our research informs mitigation strategies and conservation management.  Often, the impacts of infectious and non-infectious diseases are insidious with visible outcomes only apparent once population declines are underway: the causative agents are invisible to the naked eye and the initial impacts are often unseen.

Research at the Institute of Zoology has identified a range of infectious and non-infectious disease as primary or secondary threats to wildlife conservation and established ways to mitigate them, including via the development of disease risk analyses for wildlife translocations. We have produced a large body of work on wildlife disease ecology and shown that anthropogenic factors usually underlie both the emergence of disease threats to biodiversity and the spillover of wildlife pathogens to people and livestock.

Wild animals carry a range of pathogens, including some that can adversely impact public and domestic animal health, as well posing a potential threat to biodiversity. Understanding the ecology of such pathogens in their natural hosts and how opportunities for spillover to novel species might occur is challenging, but can lead to the development of mitigation strategies that enable people, livestock and wildlife to coexist.  ZSL is a global leader and centre of excellence in wildlife health, evidenced by research outputs, methods development and provision of training.

Our work aims to:

  • Reduce biodiversity loss due to infectious and non-infectious disease 
  • Identify and mitigate threats to public and livestock health from wildlife disease to enable coexistence of people and wild animals
  • Minimise health and welfare threats to wildlife, particularly where these are directly or indirectly due to human activities
  • Develop an international cadre of wildlife health professionals 

Garden Wildlife Health helps to identify and investigate the diseases that...

Sperm whale in the wash - CSIP

For centuries, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) have regularly...

Mallorcan midwife toads (c) Jaime Bosch

ZSL is at the forefront of research on amphibian chytridiomycosis, which has...