International Exchange

Last month a group of us traveled to Vienna’s University of Veterinary Medicine for the third Annual International Society for Wildlife Endocrinology conference. Zoo staff Diana Armstrong, Edward Wilkerson and I made the trip, in part to discuss the endocrinology database Lincoln Park Zoo has been developing.

WEIN, which stands for wildlife endocrinology information network, will hold data from wildlife endocrinology projects from around the world. It’s been three years in the making, and we’re happy to say it will be rolled out later this year.

WEIN will allow scientists from around the global to instantly share data on wildlife endocrinology, information that will help others with research on wildlife hormones. The database will contain specifics on laboratory methods and hormone results. It will even show which methods have failed in the past. This will save wildlife endocrinologists so much time because we will know the exact methods to try with a variety of wildlife species, giving us more time to focus on their conservation.

Beyond discussing the WEIN database, we were able to hear some of the latest research from our peers. There were 150 conference attendees from countries ranging from Australia to Argentina.

Diana and Edward presented posters on one of our ape projects and on the website maintained by the zoo. They used Google Analytics® to offer stats on who visits and how visitors are using the website.

Endocrinology Laboratory Associate Diana Armstrong presents a poster on one of the zoo's ape projects.

Informatics Analyst Edward Wilkerson shares traffic analysis for the ISWE website.

I gave a talk on black-footed ferrets. It’s so exciting to go to a conference where you want to hear all of the talks…even jetlag couldn’t stop us from being fascinated with every word people said, though coffee breaks were welcome!

As a side note, I’m always impressed with how well people from different cultural backgrounds speak English. There was one hiccup, though, where a woman had a slide saying she was going to “taste” the feces. She did say “test” the feces herself, so I think spell check did her wrong!

Near the end of the conference we all traveled to the Vienna Zoo, Tiergarten Schonbrunn, for a zoo day. There was a lot to see! The first exhibit featured giant pandas. They even had prairie dogs! My favorite, though, had to be the giant anteater.

Prairie dogs all the way over in Vienna!

Anteaters nose a meal at the Vienna Zoo.

Even with all the meetings, talks and the zoo day, the most exciting part of this trip had to be knowing that we’ll be hosting this international conference in mid-October 2013! Lincoln Park Zoo is expecting at least 100 international and national scientists. I can’t wait to show off our zoo and endocrinology laboratory and Chicago. Many people were excited to have International Society for Wildlife Endocrinology at Lincoln Park Zoo, and we will not disappoint them!

Rachel Santymire

Rachel Santymire, Ph.D., is director of Lincoln Park Zoo's Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology.


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