Veterinary Teamwork makes the Tortoise Dream Work!

by Jordan Gray 

To provide exceptional medical care to the thousands of Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) seized from wildlife traffickers on April 10, 2018 in Toliara, Madagascar, it takes an amazing assemblage of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and supporting animal care specialists!

The veterinary team works at the treatment table inside the on-site clinic at Village des Tortues..

The TSA and our partners in the United States and abroad have been diligently at work to recruit and provide travel and accommodation coordination for some of the top zoological and private veterinary talent. Those who have joined the successional “Team Radiata” teams in Madagascar not only have years of experience with turtles and tortoises under their figurative belts, but also demonstrate an adeptness for working in “field-like” conditions.

Dr. Ny Aina Tiana Rakotoarisoa administers subcutaneous fluids to a tortoise under treatment.

On April 23rd, the first veterinary team sent from the U.S. joined TSA veterinarian Dr. Ny Aina Tiana Rakotoarisoa, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust veterinarian Dr. Natacha Rasolozaka, volunteer veterinarian Dr. Mamy Andriamihajarivo, two TSA keepers from our Tortoise Conservation Center, and 2 volunteers in Ifaty, Madagascar. These incredible veterinarians and support staff had already assessed, provided medical treatment for, and/or begun regimens for approximately 2,800 tortoises.

Dr. Matt Marinkovich draws antibiotics to treat a young tortoise.

In the following 27 days since the first wave of support arrived from the United States, the teams of conservation heroes have performed an additional 3,492 medical assessments and treatments—a staggering amount! Furthermore, the veterinary and animal care teams have assessed 3,357 individual tortoises for transfer to our facility near Itampolo, Madagascar. Combined, these amounts total nearly 9,650 assessments and/or treatments performed by the veterinarians in the 40 days since the confiscation!

Dr. Bonnie Raphael debrides the mouth of a young tortoise.

You can support these passionate medical specialists, provide medical supplies, and help save tortoises by DONATING TODAY!

Dr. Matt O’Connor and the veterinary team treat tortoises in the on-site clinic at Village des Tortues.

Pictured from our second wave or “Team Radiata 2”:

Dr. Bonnie Raphael (private/Wildlife Conservation Society), Dr. Ny Aina Tiana Rakotoarisoa (TSA), Dr. Pete Koplos (private/ Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group), Dr. Matt Marinkovich (San Diego Zoo), Dr. Matt O’Connor (Shedd Aquarium), Dr. Adriana Nielsen (Wadi al Safa Wildlife Center), Doris Dimmitt (private), Heather Alford (San Diego Zoo Global), and Jessica Chin (Wildlife Conservation Society)

Photo credits: Jordan Gray