May 12, 2006

Cuc Phuong Turtle Centre Benefits from Veterinary Support and Training

Dr Paul Calle of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) completed a two-week training mission to Vietnam where he has been involved in training staff of the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) on the captive health management and care of turtles maintained at the centre. Dr. Calle?s visit was the third major training mission carried out under an American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Conservation Endowment Fund grant which also brought the centre?s manager, Bui Dang Phong to the United States to work alongside and gain experience from veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and herpetology staff at WCS?s Wildlife Health Sciences and Herpetology Departments at the Bronx Zoo.

During this brief mission, work focused on collection of blood, faecal and nasal flush samples from the centre?s captive elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata).  Samples were collected from 50 turtles to complement work conducted in 2004 when 25 turtles were sampled by WCS?s Dr. Bonnie Raphael as part of an ongoing investigation examining captive management and health of this species at the TCC.

Data was also collected on the diet fed to the turtles maintained at the TCC in order to analyse the nutritional value of various food items fed to some of the TCC?s 800 turtles representing 16 native species.  The diet study will further improve the health of turtles maintained in captivity both at the TCC and elsewhere in the Asia region.

Dr. Calle also spent a day out in the forest of Cuc Phuong National Park where a two-year radio telemetry study conducted by Tim McCormick focuses on the home range and ecology of the Keeled Box turtle (Cuora mouhotii).  Blood samples were collected from these wild native turtles in a study that will be used for genetic analysis by Bryan Stuart at the Field Museum of Natural History. The field team also collected ticks and fecal samples from the wild turtles as part of another study aimed at comparing parasite load of wild and captive Cuora mouhotii to determine if the captive animals are under comparably greater stress from parasites.

Thanks to the long-term commitment and efforts of Dr. Paul ?Bac si rua? Calle (turtle doctor), the TCC in recent years has been able to greatly improve its health management and care of confiscated turtles, including initiating successful breeding programs for a number of species, building a health station and quarantine facilities, and establishing clear procedures and protocols aimed at treating common health problems and reducing the risk of disease transmission by newly received turtles and between  turtles within the general population. 

The TCC also wishes to thank the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and Dave Collins of the Tennessee Aquarium ] for their assistance building health care facilities, the Wildlife Volunteers Fund of Japan (WVF) for helping support additional quarantine space, and Dr. Ule Streicher of the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, for her ongoing veterinary support and assistance to the centre.

ATCN Staff report
May 22, 2006

Contact information

Ms. Le Thi Thanh Thuy
The Asian Turtle Program
PO Box 222
Hanoi, Vietnam