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Oakland Zoo partnership helps rescue endangered riparian brush rabbits from deadly virus

Oakland, CA-A deadly virus threatens endangered waterside brush rabbits in the San Joaquin River Wildlife Sanctuary.

The waterside brush rabbit is native to California and is one of eight variants of the state’s brush rabbits.

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus serotype 2 (RHDV2) occurs in Europe and has spread to New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and California.

Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oakland Zoo is working together to help vaccinate waterside brush rabbits from deadly viruses and potential extinctions. ..

Waterside brush rabbits are found only in the Central Valley of California and play an important role in the San Joaquin River ecosystem.

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“They affect communities from vegetation and feed predators,” said Deana Clifford, senior wildlife veterinarian at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They are what we call keystone species. Many other species rely on this little rabbit.”

According to Oakland Zoo, the first case of RHDV2 was detected in Riverside, California in May 2020.

“This virus kills many rabbits,” Clifford said. “As populations grow, up to 90% of rabbits are expected to be lost. The last thing we need to do is make the rabbit endangered.”

RHDV2 is harmful only to rabbits, but can be carried by birds, insects and other animals.

When a rabbit becomes infected with RHDV2, it can take up to several days for the rabbit to die of a fatal illness.

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In the fall of 2020, Auckland Zoo accepted 20 wild rabbits for a 6-week safety trial of the RHDV2 vaccine.

“We were able to confirm that they were not only healthy, but were able to see serology and blood tests from actual vaccination,” said Oakland’s Assistant Director of Animal Protection, Conservation and Research. One Darren Minier said. Zoo. “We have had a lot of success. It’s a big effort, but it’s really important.”

After safety testing, Auckland Zoo will return the rabbits to the wild and help their partners vaccinate waterside brush rabbits in their natural habitat.

Currently, the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Sanctuary has no evidence of the rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, but the US Fish and Wildlife Department of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is closely tracking the virus.

“I don’t know how long the virus will stay here,” Minier said. “It may take years.”

The closest case to RHDV2 is 200 miles from the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Sanctuary.

“It’s the real world we’re doing and it’s working right away,” said Minier. “We know that all the rabbits we vaccinate will be saved from the virus and will be able to live and breed. This is one of the most rewarding programs to date. ”



Oakland Zoo partnership helps rescue endangered riparian brush rabbits from deadly virus Source link Oakland Zoo partnership helps rescue endangered riparian brush rabbits from deadly virus

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