About the Davee Center

The Davee Center studies health in zoo and wild populations, including the influence of hormones on health.

About the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology

With a generous gift from the Davee Foundation, the Center for Veterinary Epidemiology was created in 2001 to bridge the gap between population biology and veterinary medicine through the study of epidemiology. Further generosity enabled the center to expand in 2005 to incorporate endocrinology research, making it the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology.

The zoo’s epidemiology research focuses on studying health in captive and wild animal populations. “Health” is defined as the dynamic balance between a host and its environment. A major role for epidemiology is the identification of factors leading to an imbalance in the relationship between host and environment.

Wildlife epidemiology seeks to understand these relationships within wildlife communities and between wildlife and other communities (ie., agricultural and human populations) at the ecosystem level. The zoo’s epidemiology research focuses on improving evidence-based decision making about the health of wild and captive populations by:

  • Designing and implementing rigorous surveillance programs in both captive and free-range wildlife
  • Investigating wildlife disease outbreaks
  • Analyzing health-associated risks to wildlife populations or ecosystems
  • Developing partnerships to enhance infrastructure in the areas above (including knowledge, skills and abilities of those in a position to have the most impact) for the benefit of conservation and ecosystem health 

The zoo’s endocrinology research focuses on studying the effects of hormones on animal behavior and well-being, focusing on stress and reproduction. Using fecal and urine samples for noninvasive hormone analysis, the zoo's endocrinologist collaborates with other researchers to form a fuller picture of animal health.