Page last updated at 09:10 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Zoo wins wildlife medicine award

Magellanic Penguin
The test allows for diagnosis of malaria at an early stage

Bristol Zoo's in-house veterinary team has won a top award for significant advances in zoo and wildlife medicine.

The award recognises the pioneering use of a test to detect avian malaria in captive penguins and Inca terns.

Head of Veterinary Services Sharon Redrobe said the test could be carried out in-house with one drop of blood and only takes 20 minutes to run.

"This test is a real breakthrough for the treatment and management of malaria in captive birds," she said.

Ms Redrobe was researching malaria when she wondered whether the test would work on birds.

Disease control

"I spoke to the researcher who developed the test and he agreed there was no reason why it shouldn't work in the same way on birds," she said.

"It has proven very effective and we have not had any major outbreaks since we started using it."

The award is from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) - a conservation, education and scientific wildlife charity, which acts as the principal professional body representing the responsible zoo and aquarium community in the UK and Ireland.

In their summing up of the winning entry, judges said: "This avian malaria test allows for diagnosis of the disease at a sufficiently early stage to enable successful treatment.

"This represents a major advance in keeping control of an avian disease which is becoming more prevalent due to global warming."

Bristol Zoo was one of 16 winners chosen from 77 entries.

"It is great to receive these awards; they show that the industry recognizes the work that goes on at Bristol Zoo every day," said Sharon Redrobe.

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