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Male lynx Norik moved to Kalkalpen National Park with the help of our wildlife veterinarian

Unfortunately, the five lynxes living in the Kalkalpen National Park have had no success in breeding in recent years. With only five individuals, the small population is also endangered due to a lack of genetic diversity. A blood test last year showed that the dominant male Lakota has a low testosterone level, which could possibly be responsible for his infertility. On 10 December the 1.5-year-old male lynx Norik was released into the wild, just in time for the mating season in February and March. It is hoped that as a Carpathian lynx, it will bring fresh blood into the population and thus contribute to the long-term conservation of the species.

Norik was born in May 2021 in a near-natural enclosure in the "wildcat village" of Hütscheroda in Germany. From there he came to a reintroduction enclosure near Maßweiler, Rhineland-Palatinate, which is managed by Florian Eiserlo's team from the wildlife station TIERART (of the animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS). There are three lynx enclosures for injured wild lynxes or lynxes like Norik that are passing through. The animals can prepare for a life in the wild without human contact. Through our cooperation with the Kalkalpen National Park, we were able to find a place for the lynx there -- wildlife management expert Felix Knauer from the Conservation Medicine unit of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at the Vetmeduni negotiated this with Christian Fuxjäger, the lynx expert at the Kalkalpen National Park.

Our wildlife doctor Johanna Painer-Gigler from the wildlife medicine working group accompanied him on his move to the Kalkalpen National Park. She gave Norik a veterinary check on site; for this she took blood samples to determine diseases and genetics, and did an X-ray and ultrasound examination. After the lynx was found healthy, she put a transmitter collar on him. On 10 December, just past midnight, the young lynx was released into the forest wilderness of the national park by national park director Volkhard Maier and ranger Hermann Jansesberger, where he disappeared into the dark snowy night.

In the meantime he has already been spotted on a camera trap and Christian Fuxjäger was also able to locate his collar transmitter. Now all parties involved hope that there will be good news about offspring in the spring.

About the lynxes in the Kalkalpen region


Anita Metzinger wins the Wirsam Light Microscopy Prize

Our student and colleague Anita Metzinger has won the Wirsam Light Microscopy Prize for the Best Presentation at the "Microscopy is fun" Conference of the Microscopy Society of Southern Africa.

Her research theme "Microstructure of the Spleen of the Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum)" is looking at the functional histology of the rhino spleen to find out (1) what kind of spleen these animals have, (2) if the spleen could have a storage function, and (3) if there are any signs that the spleen contracts in stress situations and thereby increases the proportion of red blood cells in the blood.

This research is part of a larger project, which is concerned with the welfare of rhinos during transport. It is a collaboration between us and the University of Pretoria.

Heartfelt congratulations to our colleague!

Abstract on page 24



VetmedTalk „Grüne Lungen“ (Green lungs). People and animals in forest ecosystems

 (Talk in German)

VetmedTalk: Heute verstehen. Morgen verändern.


12 December 2022 | 5-6 p.m. | Online 

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees: Countless details block the view of the big picture. With this VetmedTalk, the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, together with the experts from the Donauauen National Park and the Austrian Federal Forests, wants to offer a comprehensive overview of the special features of the forest habitat. For a healthy future for animals and humans, we need a healthy forest.

Austria is a densely wooded country: 3.5 billion trees cover almost 50 percent of the national area and form a diverse habitat for a wide variety of animals. Deer and rabbits, foxes and hedgehogs, but also many birds, insects, amphibians and reptiles make the forests a unique ecosystem. The VetmedTalk "Green Lungs" presents exciting research projects from veterinary medicine and examines how the health of animals and the health of humans are related through the forest habitat.

Forests are essential for us humans. They produce oxygen for our air, wood for our furniture, store our drinking water, prevent floods and protect against mudslides and avalanches. We use the "green lungs" in our free time as a place to relax, and as a huge carbon store, they are also an important instrument in climate protection. At the same time, the forest is a habitat for countless animal species, flora and fauna in the forest are essential for a healthy environment. Nevertheless, we humans have a massive impact on the life of these forest ecosystems through climate change and intensive forest use.

How can humans and animals coexist and thrive in the forest? And what can veterinary medicine contribute to climate protection and biodiversity?

In 2022, the Vetmeduni will focus on communication on "Life on land", UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 15, with a special habitat focus each quarter. It started with air, followed by fresh water and meadows , and the forest ecosystem now concludes the series. The last VetmedTalk of this year is about the status quo of our forest dwellers and how we can protect their habitat. Science communicator Bernhard Weingartner and his guests will answer questions from the online audience.


  • Claudia Bieber, Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, Vetmeduni
  • Edith Klauser, Nationalpark Donauauen
  • Alexandra Wieshaider, Austrian Federal Forests
  • Richard Zink, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, Vetmeduni


  • Bernhard Weingartner, Science communicator and initiator of the Science Slam Austria


Live online stream at



Poster prize for Hanna Rauch - Science Day 2022

Veterinarian Hanna Rauch, who is doing her doctoral thesis in the Wild and Zoo Animal Medicine working group of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, won second prize in the poster competition at the Vetmeduni Science Day 2022 with the poster "CYSTOCENTESIS: An essential tool for felid standard health checks".

Accurately diagnosing chronic kidney disease (CKD) in felines requires a combination of serum and urine analysis. However, diagnostic sampling under sterile conditions for urinalysis is rarely performed in domestic big cats. Hanna Rauch and her colleagues took sterile urine samples using an ultrasound-assisted collection method and analyzed them in 47 non-domesticated felids. They found anomalies in 60% of the samples. The high prevalence of abnormal findings underscores the importance of including urinalysis in the general health assessment of non-domestic felines.

In her doctoral thesis, Hanna Rauch is researching kidney diseases in big cats such as tigers and lions. She is also concerned with improving the safety of anesthetics in a large number of wild animal species.

We warmly congratulate our colleague!


This year´s Rupert-Riedl Preis goes to Dr. Pamela Burger

Pamela Burger of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology has won the Rupert Riedl prize for her research on "Evolutionary history and domestication in Old World camels“.

Rupert Riedl is the founding president of the Club of Vienna. To honor him, the Club of Vienna has been awarding the Vienna Rupert Riedl Prize since 2002. The Club of Vienna awards the prize annually to young scientists whose work is related to evolutionary epistemology. Funding is provided for theoretical and practice-related work in the humanities, social sciences and economics, as well as in the natural and technical sciences.

The Club of Vienna is an association of recognized scientists and experts. Its work focuses on sustainability issues from an economic, social and ecological point of view. In particular, it takes up questions around  economic activity that doesn´t desroy life´s foundations, and that promotes a good coexistence of people and the preservation of peace.

Congratulations to our colleague!


Website of the Club of Vienna


Let´s stick together: huddling helps to save energy

The garden dormouse (Eliomys quercinus) is a slightly smaller relative of the edible dormouse. The highly endangered rodent uses hibernation  - a series of multiple torpor bouts - as an adaptation strategy to the cold, low-food-availability season. The animals use two strategies for this, namely torpor and huddling (snuggling up against one another). According to a recently published study by the Vetmeduni´s Research Institute of Wildlife  Ecology, this behaviour of social thermoregulation pays off: The energy expenditure during the rewarming phase from torpor is significantly reduced by "huddling".

For their study, the scientists investigated the extent to which huddling helps garden dormice save energy. According to study lead author Laura Magaly Charlanne from FIWI at Vetmeduni, the energy-saving hypothesis was confirmed: "Huddling significantly reduces energy consumption during rewarming - the phase with the highest energy requirement during hibernation. Huddling animals reduced heat requirements and weight loss by two-thirds compared to animals waking up alone.”

Garden dormice share the benefits of body contact

On the downside, huddling does not reduce the weight loss of young animals over the entire hibernation period. A possible reason for this is that the animals take turns warming up, which could mitigate the energetic advantages of close body contact. Study last author Sylvain Giroud from FIWI says: "Our study of the dynamics of huddling revealed random-like behavior during hibernation, as awakening from torpor was not always initiated by the same animal. The garden dormice took turns within their group. Also, during the warm-up, the animal with the highest body temperature entered torpor later than the others in the group.”

Collective gains from energy savings

The conclusion of the scientists: The animals share the advantages and disadvantages of huddling and warming up on a collective level without deriving any individual energetic benefit from it. "We hypothesize that the dynamics of social thermoregulation during hibernation offset the individual benefits due to the reduced energy expenditure associated with the energy-intensive process of rewarming from torpor," says Sylvain Giroud.

Social thermoregulation and global change

According to the researchers, studies with varying group compositions are now needed to learn more about the strategy of social thermoregulation and to investigate possible long-term effects after several winters. This is also because due to the rapid global changes and the increasing occurrence of unpredictable weather events, new knowledge is urgently needed about the extent to which flexible energy saving strategies help to survive hibernators their seasonal hibernation.

The article "Sticking Together: Energetic Consequences of Huddling Behavior in Hibernating Juvenile Garden Dormice“ by Laura Magaly Charlanne, Sebastian Vetter, Joy Einwaller, Johanna Painer, Caroline Gilbert, and Sylvain Giroud was published in the special edition “Time Out for Survival: Hibernation and Daily Torpor in Field and Lab Studies” of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.

Scientific article 


Moving toward the greener side

Livestock grazing often intensifies around herder camps, which can lead to degradation, particularly in arid areas, where vegetation is scarce. In Mongolia, nomadic herders have covered long distances between camps and changed camps regularly for centuries. However, changing socioeconomics, rising livestock numbers, and climatic change have led to growing concerns over rangeland health.

To understand travel mobility and livestock grazing patterns, a team of scientists combined Global Positioning System tracking data of goats, remotely sensing pasture productivity, and ground-based vegetation characteristics in the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, Mongolia. They assessed herder preferences for camp selection, followed 19 livestock herds over 20 months, determined use and nutrient contents of the most dominant plant communities, and estimated plant species richness, vegetation cover, and biomass within different grazing radii around camps.

Biomass availability was key for herder decisions to move camps, but in winter, other factors like shelter from wind were more important. Camps were mainly located in Stipa spp. communities, agreeing with herder preferences for this highly nutritious species, and its dominance around camps. Herders changed their camp locations on average 9 times yearly, with a maximum distance of 70–123 km between summer and winter camps, and an average visitation period of 25–49 d per camp, depending on season. Small livestock spent > 13−17 h daily within a radius of 100 m from camp, and livestock use intensity decreased steeply with distance from camp but was remarkably similar around spring, autumn, and winter camps on the Gobi plains.

However, the researchers found little evidence for a corresponding gradient in plant species richness, biomass, and cover on the Gobi plains. The high mobility of local herders and the overriding impact of precipitation on pasture dynamics contribute to a sustainable vegetation offtake by livestock in the nonequilibrium rangelands of the Dzungarian Gobi.

The article "Moving Toward the Greener Side: Environmental Aspects Guiding Pastoral Mobility and Impacting Vegetation in the Dzungarian Gobi, Mongolia" by Lena M. Michler, Petra Kaczensky, Jane F. Ploechl, Daginnas Batsukh, Sabine A. Baumgartner, Bayarmaa Battogtokh, and Anna C. Treydte was published in Rangeland Ecology & Management.

Scientific article


Are City Rats a Promising Surveillance Tool for Emerging Viruses?

Urban environments represent unique ecosystems where dense human populations may come into contact with wildlife species, some of which are established or potential reservoirs for zoonotic pathogens that cause human diseases. Finding practical ways to monitor the presence and/or abundance of zoonotic pathogens is important to estimate the risk of spillover to humans in cities.

As brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) are ubiquitous in urban habitats, and are hosts of several zoonotic viruses, a team of international scientists led by Chris Walzer conducted longitudinal sampling of brown rats in Vienna, Austria, a large population center in Central Europe. We investigated rat tissues for the presence of several zoonotic viruses, including flaviviruses, hantaviruses, coronaviruses, poxviruses, hepatitis E virus, encephalomyocarditis virus, and influenza A virus.

Although the researchers found no evidence of active infections (all were negative for viral nucleic acids) among 96 rats captured between 2016 and 2018, their study supports the findings of others, suggesting that monitoring urban rats may be an efficient way to estimate the activity of zoonotic viruses in urban environments.

The article "Monitoring Urban Zoonotic Virus Activity: Are City Rats a Promising Surveillance Tool for Emerging Viruses?“ by Jeremy V. Camp, Amélie Desvars-Larrive, Norbert Nowotny, and Chris Walzer was published in "Viruses".

Scientific article


New model explains hibernation according to mathematical rules

Mammals hibernate to temporarily escape adverse environmental conditions. In order to make the study results based on this explanatory approach more comparable, a model has now been developed under the direction of the Research Institute for Wildlife Ecology at the Vetmeduni, which represents the common hibernation hypothesis according to mathematical rules for the first time.

Mammals that hibernate (use torpor) lower their metabolic rate (MR) and body temperature (Tb), sometimes drastically for several weeks, but regularly warm up their bodies, staying in a phase of normal temperature for a short time. The current scientific explanation for this phenomenon is that by leaving hibernation for a short time, accumulated or depleted metabolic products are rebalanced or cell damage that has occurred is repaired. Recent data demonstrating a significant association between hibernation duration and metabolic rate during hibernation strongly support this hypothesis.

In a recently published study, a research team from Vetmeduni with the participation of the University of New England (Armidale, New South Wales, Australia) presents a new mathematical model that simulates such hibernation patterns. The model includes a so-called hourglass process H (hibernation; overwintering), which represents the accumulation or depletion of a crucial enzyme/metabolite, and a threshold process Hthr (hibernation threshold process). The awakening from hibernation thus occurs as soon as the exponentially decreasing process H reaches the threshold of Hthr.

Thomas Ruf, lead author of the study from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, explains the benefits of the new model as follows: "The model we developed can be used to predict several phenomena that can be observed in overwintering mammals, such as the linear relationship between the duration of the reduced metabolic rate (TMR) and duration of reduced temperature (duration of torpor bouts; TBD). In addition, the new model is able to depict the effects of the ambient temperature on the duration of the reduced temperature as well as the modulation of the freezing depth within the hibernation period.”

In summary, according to the scientists, the two-process model of torpor heating cycles - into which circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycle) can also be integrated - is compatible with a number of phenomena that have been observed in overwintering mammals. The researchers now see the most important next task as determining the causes of the hourglass process H. In addition to the analysis of phenotypic differences, Ruf identified the search for the genetic basis as an important new research goal.

The article „Hypothesis and Theory: A Two-Process Model of Torpor-Arousal Regulation in Hibernators“ by Thomas Ruf, Sylvain Giroud, and Fritz Geiser was published in „Frontiers in Physiology“.

Scientific article


The perfect wave - how bald ibises save energy during flight

Many birds use "waves" to move. Phases with rapid wing beats, during which the birds gain height, alternate with gliding phases. A research team led by the Vetmeduni (Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology and the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology) - in cooperation with the Austrian Waldrapp team in Mutters (Tyrol), the ETH Zurich, the University of Vienna and the Vetsuisse in Bern – has now demonstrated for the first time, using data from GPS transmitters, that northern bald ibises significantly reduce their energy requirements with this flight technique.

Birds have an exceptionally high energy requirement during their flight. A visible flight characteristic of some species is the alternation between flapping and gliding, which is said to conserve energy. So far, however, there has been no empirical evidence of an energetic benefit. To change that, the researchers equipped human-reared northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) with GPS data loggers for their migration movements. The scientists used it to monitor the position of the birds, the wing beats, the dynamic acceleration of the whole body and the heart rate as a measure of energy consumption.

The northern bald ibis is about the size of a goose and was once a common bird in Europe. Due to intensive hunting, however, it became extinct in Central Europe in the 17th century. As part of the European LIFE+EU project, which is supported by the WWF, among others, the northern bald ibis is to be resettled as a real migratory bird in Central Europe, Spain and Italy.

The article „Empirical Evidence for Energy Efficiency Using Intermittent Gliding Flight in Northern Bald Ibises“ by Ortal Mizrahy-Rewald, Elisa Perinot, Johannes Fritz, Alexei L. Vyssotski, Leonida Fusani, Bernhard Voelkl, and Thomas Ruf was published in „Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution“.

Scientific article



Genetic analyses show the cheetah is extremely threatened

With only 7,100 animals living in the wild, the cheetah is one of the highly endangered mammal species, and individual subspecies are even threatened with extinction. But it is not the small number of individuals alone. A recently published international gene analysis conducted by the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at Vetmeduni, headed by Pamela Burger and first author Stefan Prost shows that genome-wide heterozygosity (genetic diversity) is extremely low. The study, published in the journal Molecular Ecology, presents the most comprehensive genome-wide analysis of cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) phylogeography and conservation genomics to date, assembling samples from nearly its entire current and historical distribution. The scientists show that their phylogeography - i.e. the phylogenetic and geographical origin of individual genetic lineages - is more complex than previously thought, and that East African cheetahs are genetically different from South African individuals - justifying their recognition as a distinct subspecies.

In the endangered Iranian (A. j. venaticus) and Northwest African (A. j. hecki) subspecies, the scientists found a high level of inbreeding. Overall, according to Stefan Prost, the following picture emerges: “Together with snow leopards, cheetahs have the lowest genome-wide heterozygosity of all big cats. This underscores the critical conservation status of the cheetah.”

Apex predators such as the cheetah play an important role in ecosystems. Standing at the top of the food pyramid, they make a significant contribution to keeping their habitat in balance. However, due to biodiversity loss and global environmental changes, many large carnivores are threatened with extinction. This can have far-reaching effects on ecosystems, such as an uncontrolled increase in herbivores, which in turn has a negative impact on the regenerative capacity of the plant world. The cheetah is heading for an uncertain future. Threatened by habitat loss, human-wildlife conflicts and illegal trade, only about 7,100 individuals remain in the wild.

The article „Genomic Analyses Show Extremely Perilous Conservation Status of African and Asiatic cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)“ by Stefan Prost, Ana Paula Machado, Julia Zumbroich, Lisa Preier, Sarita Mahtani-Williams, Rene Meissner, Katerina Guschanski, Jaelle C. Brealey, Carlos Rodríguez Fernandes, Paul Vercammen, Luke T. B. Hunter, Alexei V. Abramov, Martin Plasil, Petr Horin, Lena Godsall-Bottriell, Paul Bottriell, Desire Lee Dalton, Antoinette Kotze, and Pamela Anna Burger was published in „Molecular Ecology“.

Scientific article

Improved diagnosis and treatment of bile-farmed Asiatic black bears

Traditional medicine in Southeast Asia and China often incorporates ingredients derived from animals. Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus), for example, are harvested for their bile. The bile is extracted from captive animals up to several times a week – a procedure that often leads to inflammation of the gallbladder. In their study, an international team led by researchers from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at Vetmeduni, in cooperation with the animal welfare association Four Paws, investigated possible methods of diagnosing and treating gallbladder inflammation.

Across Southeast Asia and China, more than 17,000 Asiatic black bears are farmed for their bile under extremely poor conditions to meet the demand for traditional medicine products. Years of unsterile bile extraction often causes chronic gallbladder inflammation and considerable suffering to the animals. In both human and veterinary medicine, the diagnostic value of macroscopic bile examinations (diagnosis with the naked eye) for assessing gallbladder disease remains unclear.

The researchers examined 39 formerly bile-farmed adult Asiatic black bears under anaesthesia and for further evaluation performed percutaneous ultrasound-guided cholecystocentesis (PUC), a technique in which bile is collected through a small puncture. PUC is considered the diagnostic gold standard for gallbladder inflammation and is associated with very low complication rates. A total of 59 bile samples were taken during standard veterinary health checks, with 20 animals sampled twice to evaluate the therapeutic success. All bile samples were examined macroscopically and microscopically, followed by analysis for bacterial cultures and antimicrobial sensitivity.

“In the majority of bears, samples with microscopic evidence of bacterial infection lacked inflammatory cells and did not always correlate with positive bacterial cultures. The most common bacterial isolates were Enterococcus spp., Streptococcusspp. and Escherichia coli. Based on our findings, the optimal duration of antibiotic treatment for chronic bacterial gallbladder inflammation is 30 days,” says the study’s first author, Szilvia K. Kalogeropoulu from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at Vetmeduni.

Another important finding, according to the study’s last author Johanna Painer-Gigler from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, concerns the diagnosis of gallbladder inflammation in formerly bile-farmed bears: “Unlike gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) and gallbladder wall thickness, the organoleptic properties of bile were found to be reliable markers of chronic gallbladder inflammation, with colour and turbidity indicating cholestasis [reduction or stoppage of bile flow].” The current study highlights the importance of cholecystocentesis for the diagnosis and successful treatment of gallbladder disease and provides initial results on the potential diagnostic value of macroscopic bile examination.

The article “Chronic cholecystitis: Diagnostic and therapeutic insights from formerly bile-farmed Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus)” by Szilvia K. Kalogeropoulu, Emily J. Lloyd, Hanna Rauch, Irene Redtenbacher, Michael Häfner, Iwan A. Burgener, Johanna Painer-Gigler was published inPLOS ONE.

To the scientific article



Anna Sickmueller wins an Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation Award

Our graduate student Anna Sickmueller won the "Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation Award" at this year's "Zoo and Wildlife Health Conference".

Her diploma thesis is supervised by Friederike Pohlin and Johanna Painer-Gigler (Vetmeduni Vienna), Ursina Rusch (Black Rhino Range Expansion Project) and colleagues from South Africa (University of Pretoria) and investigates the effects of transport stress on pregnant black and white rhinos.

We are pleased that the wildlife medicine working group of the Vetmeduni Vienna was well represented at the conference.

  • Johanna Painer-Gigler (Vetmeduni Vienna) led the "Use it or Lose it - Veterinary Role in Proactive Reproduction Management" workshop together with Imke Lüders (GEOlifes).


Contributions from our vets, PhD students, graduate students and interns:

  • Friederike Pohlin: Electroencephalogram-based indices for depth-of-anaesthesia monitoring in white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum) immobilised with different etorphine-based combinations
  • Ursula Teubenbacher: Intrastromal indocyanine green photothermal therapy for chronic recurrent keratitis in an adult female captive red deer (Cervus elaphus)
  • Hanna Rauch: Cystocentesis: an essential tool for felid standard health checks
  • Julia Bohner: Etorphine-free immobilization of captive Przewalski horses –temporary solution or reasonable alternative?
  • Szilvia Kalogeropoulu: Diagnosis and treatment of chronic cholecystitis in formerly bile-farmed Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus)
  • Anna Sickmueller: Investigating consequences of translocation-stress in pregnant black (Diceros bicornis) and white (Ceratotherium simum) rhinoceroses
  •  Myriam Mugnier: Comparison of three sedation protocols to improve analgesia in isoflurane anaesthetised garden dormice undergoing laparotomy


More information about the conference 


Armenian-Austrian project to improve biocontrol

The effects of climate change on species and ecosystems are already visible. An alarming situation for biocontrol is the potential for pathogens and alien species to change their distribution, hosts and virulence as a result of climate change. Molecular biology, next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics are the main tools of biosecurity surveillance against alien species and pathogen spread. Biosecurity capacity building in Armenia has major implications not only nationally but also regionally due to Armenia's location at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, in the corridor between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. The main objective of the project "Strengthening Genetic Biocontrol Capacities under Climate Change in Armenia (ArmBioClimate)" is to study the challenges for the successful deployment of genetic biocontrol and the improvement of the necessary capacities in Armenian research institutions.

On May 18, the team of the Armenian-Austrian project, coordinated by Yerevan State University, visited A. Takhtajyan Botany Institute NAS RA. Project partners are also the A. Takhtajyan Institute for Botany, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) and the Medical University of Vienna.

Accompanied by the deputy director A. Ghukasyan, the Austrian colleagues, including the geneticist Pamela Burger from the Research Institute for Wildlife Ecology, made a tour of the Yerevan Botanical Garden to get to know the infrastructure of the institute. At a subsequent workshop, the progress of the project, prospects for expansion, and the further integration of the Institute of Botany into the program were discussed.

The project was funded by the APPEAR (Austrian Partnership Program in Higher Education & Research for Development) program of the Agency for Education and Internationalization (OeAD).


Trypanosoma infektion in dromedaries

The camel is a salient character of the pastoral economy around the world. Apropos of this title role, the camel plays a particularly crucial role in arid and semi-arid areas of the world. The camel population is growing despite much urbanization around the world. The importance of the camel concerns the acquisition of milk, meat and other byproducts.

Due to emerging health issues, people mainly rely on camel milk and meat due to their remedial purposes, hence why it is held in high regard. Therefore, it is crucial to take into consideration the camels’ health, risks, associated diseases and diagnoses. In this investigation, an effort was made to detect trypanosomoses in dromedary camels by using different diagnostic techniques in Northern Oman.

Der Artikel „Detection of Trypanosoma Infection in Dromedary Camels by Using Different Diagnostic Techniques in Northern Oman“ by  Al-Kharusi, A; Elshafie, EI; Baqir, S; Faraz, A; Al-Ansari, A; Burger, P; Mahgoub, O; Al-Kharousi, K; Al-Duhli, H; Al-Sinani, M; Al-Hatali, R and Roberts, D was published inAnimals.

Zum wissenschaftlichen Artikel


A lot going on at the Vetmeduni Open House day

On Saturday, May 21st after a Corona-related break, the open house of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna finally took place again. Researchers and veterinarians presented the topics of their work to a broad public with a variety of demonstration and hands-on stations. Our department was also represented again and aroused great interest among the visitors.

A total of 2,700 people visited the Vetmeduni campus and found out about the diverse tasks and opportunities at our university.

The open day was therefore again an important contribution to our mission to carry the knowledge gained through our research beyond teaching into society.

Event page



Women in wildlife medicine & conservation - Roundtable

As part of the "Women in wildlife medicine and conservation" event, wildlife pathologist Annika Posautz (Research Institute for Wildlife Ecology, Conservation Medicine Unit, Vetmeduni) will host this event to enable Vetmeduni students to have an informal exchange of information on career opportunities in the field of wildlife medicine and conservation - with researchers, which provide insights into their careers.

Monday, May 30, 2022, 5-8 p.m. in the large meeting room of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Vienna

20 people can take part in person, the round of talks will also be broadcast online.


  • Christiana Hebel – Expertin Wildtier- und Greifvogelmedizin (Vereinigte Arabische Emirate)
  • Hanna Vielgrader – Expertin Zootiermedizin (Tiergarten Schönbrunn)
  • Sylvie Rietmann – Expertin Wildlife management (Energy Changes)
  • Irene Redtenbacher – Expertin Wildlife management, animal welfare (Vier Pfoten)
  • Amélie Desvars-Larrive – Expertin One Health & Conservation medicine (Abteilung für Öffentliches Veterinärwesen und Epidemiologie, Vetmeduni)
  • Julia Zleptnig – verantwortlich für "Gender & Diversity" an der Vetmeduni (Personalentwicklung, Vetmeduni)

Register per Mail to Annika Posautz by 25 May 2022

Spots for participation on campus are allocated on a first come, first served basis - please indicate when registering whether attendance or online participation is preferred. The link to the stream will be sent with the registration confirmation.
Note: Unfortunately, people who participate online cannot actively participate in the discussion.

Event page



Technology meets nature: 2nd Mallnitz Days

Innovations in wildlife monitoring were the focus of the 2nd Mallnitz Days on May 13th, which emerged in 2019 from the cooperation between the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, the state of Carinthia and the Hohe Tauern National Park.*

New technologies open up numerous possibilities for observing changes in ecosystems and have become indispensable in the field of nature conservation. The options in wildlife monitoring go far beyond the well-known GPS collar. Experts from Vienna and Carinthia informed the participants of the 2nd Mallnitz Days current high-tech methods for wildlife monitoring and about the practical use and effects of the technologies used.

LH Peter Kaiser: "I am pleased that high-tech innovations can add value to nature conservation in the Hohe Tauern National Park. In this way it is possible to observe animals and nature in relation to the occurring climate change in the best possible way and to react to it with the necessary measures."

Many interesting topics were presented, including a new research project on the Heiligenblut chamois, an update on the population development of owls and birds of prey in Austria, exciting information on the development of the native bird world, the topic of drones, climate change and health: future topics in the field of wildlife monitoring, as well as the role of genetics in the monitoring of wildlife populations. Equally important was information on the health monitoring of wild animals with demonstration at the show table, and the use of radio transmitters through to satellite technology: modern methods of wildlife telemetry.

Otto Doblhoff-Dier, Vice Rector for Research and International Relations at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna: "I am very pleased that the Mallnitz Days could take place again this year after a break due to corona: They are an important building block in our VetmedRegio initiative, in which we make the expertise of our university available to all interested parties throughout Austria.”

*Press release Hohe Tauern National Park, May 13, 2022

Vetmeduni press release


Hare die-off: first detection worldwide of C. turicencis in lagomorphs

In autumn 2019, an acute die-off was reported among European hares (Lepus europaeus) in northeastern Austria. A recently published study led by Annika Posautz and colleagues at the pathology group of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology/Vetmeduni shows that the most likely cause was an infection with the bacterial pathogen Cronobacter turicensis. This could be dangerous not only for the hares. According to the researchers, there is also a risk of transmission to humans.

The recent study aimed to investigate and characterise the cause of the hare deaths in 2019 phenotypically and genetically. The team of researchers proved that the death of the hares from typhlocolitis (inflammation of the large intestine) was caused by genetically different strains of the bacterium Cronobacter turicensis. According to the scientists, this is the first evidence of a clinical infection in wild animals worldwide. Previously, clinical infections had only been detected in humans.

“Due to the potential of this bacterium to inflict severe disease in humans, the risk of a spillover should be kept in mind, especially for those people in direct contact with hares, such as hunters, farmers or veterinarians,” says the study’s first author, Annika Posautz of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at Vetmeduni.

The bacterial genus Cronobacter, which currently comprises seven species, is primarily known as a ubiquitous, opportunistic pathogen that can contaminate several types of food products. Particularly dangerous are the two species C. sakazakii and C. malonaticus, which are involved in most clinical Cronobacter infections in humans, causing severe symptoms such as blood poisoning, necrotising enteritis (inflammation of the intestine) and meningitis (infection of meninges). In contrast to humans, clinical infections caused by members of the genus Cronobacter have, to the authors’ knowledge, never been reported in animals.

The article „Outbreak of Cronobacter turicensis in European brown hares (Lepus europaeus)“ by Annika Posautz, Michael P. Szostak, Adriana Cabal Rosel, Franz Allerberger, Anna Stöger, Gerhard Rab, Andrea T. Feßler, Joachim Spergser, Anna Kübber-Heiss, Stefan Schwarz, Stephen J. Forsythe, Werner Ruppitsch, and Igor Loncaric was published in „Letters in Applied Microbiology“.


Vetmeduni press release

Scientific article



"Fachtierärztin" (specialized veterinarian) for zoo- and wildlife title for Johanna Painer-Gigler und Friederike Pohlin

Our veterinarians Johanna Painer-Gigler and Friederike Pohlin recently passed the specialist veterinary examination. The "Fachtierarzt" is a title for veterinarians who specialize in a certain field and can be obtained after several years of further training and successful examination. Our veterinarians at the institute are all specialized in the field of wildlife and zoo animal medicine, but the title of specialist veterinarian means an additional qualification. Specialist veterinarians are obliged to acquire at least 10 subject-specific training hours per year in addition to the general further training obligation. Scientific publications in a recognized specialist journal must also be presented.

Our two veterinarians have now successfully obtained the title of specialist veterinarian for zoo and wild animals. Congratulations to our colleagues on passing the exam!



Hunting suitability model - a new tool for managing wild ungulates

In many regions worldwide, effective wildlife management in human-dominated landscapes is important due to increasing numbers of wild ungulates. This is especially true in mountain ranges like the European Alps, where damages to forests caused by wild ungulates not only lead to economic losses but also threaten the integrity and functionality of other forest functions, like the protection against landslides and avalanches. To diminish damages like browsing or bark stripping and thus mitigate human-wildlife conflicts while ensuring viable ungulate populations, sustainable management is required. Concerning this matter, hunting can play an important role by altering the spatial distribution of ungulate species in the landscape and reducing their numbers through harvesting to reach a population size with favourable sex and age structure. Current hunting practices often fail in this context, however, as many ungulates like red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), or white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) respond to the presence of humans through an avoidance behaviour to reduce the probability of being harvested. To counteract this phenomenon, tools to inform sustainable management of these species are urgently needed.

In a recent paper we provide for the first time a hunting suitability model for wild ungulate management in mountainous landscapes to visualise hunting suitability objectively and realistically. Using red deer as a model species, we modelled hunting suitability with high spatial resolution (10 x 10 m), based on remote sensing information, field surveys, and expert knowledge of professional hunters. Further, we analysed spatio-temporal habitat selection by radio-collared deer in relation to locations of varying hunting suitability.

We found that red deer avoided areas suitable for hunting during daylight hours in the hunting season, but not during the night. We concluded that this species seems to perceive a landscape of heterogeneous anthropogenic predation risk, shaped by locations of various hunting suitability, as we modelled it.

In short and concerning wild ungulate management, our model provides high-resolution predictions of where species like red deer will retreat when perceived anthropogenic predation risk increases. The model also yields useful insights regarding the hunting suitability of particular locations, which is valuable information especially for non-locals. Furthermore, our model can serve as planning tool to inform decisions about where particular hunting strategies can be performed most efficiently to manage wild ungulates and therefore minimize human-wildlife conflicts.

The text for this blog is by Paul Griesberger. You can find the original blog and the scientific articles at the link.

Wildlife Biology Blog

Scientific article


Improving animal welfare during wildlife anaesthesia

Chemical immobilisation is often required for the management, conservation and veterinary care of captive and free-ranging wildlife species.For many wild animal species, this requires the use of highly potent anaesthetics or much higher doses than compared to domestic animals. However, the use of such potent anaesthetics, or high doses, is also associated with undesirable side effects, such as respiratory depression in the case of highly potent opioids, or pronounced cardiovascular side effects such as increased blood pressure or reduced heart rate in the case of high doses of specific sedatives. Two recent studies by the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at Vetmeduni now show how these side effects can be significantly minimised through the simultaneous administration of substances that act specifically on the signalling pathway of cells. The researchers see this as an important step towards improving animal welfare during anaesthesia.

Gabrielle Stalder, who leads wildlife medicine research at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, sees the results of both studies as encouraging: “Our data show that both BIMU-8 and vatinoxan have the potential to significantly improve the welfare of animals during wildlife anaesthesia events.”

The article „Investigation of cardiorespiratory effects of the selective 5-HT4 agonist BIMU-8 in etorphine-immobilised goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) in a randomized, blinded and controlled trial“ by Nadine Tod, Gabrielle Stalder, Hanna Rauch, Stefan Böhmdorfer, Anna Haw, Hanno Gerritsmann, Johanna Painer and Leith Meyer was published in „Veterinary Record“.

The article „Cardiovascular effects of intravenous vatinoxan in wild boars (Sus scrofa) anaesthetised with intramuscular medetomidine-tiletamine-zolazepam“ by Joy Einwaller, Leith C. R. Meyer, Ulrike Auer, Marja Raekallio, Julia Nowack, Anna Haw, Sebastian Vetter, Johanna Painer and Gabrielle Stalder was published in „Veterinary Record“.

Vetmeduni Press release