While pursuing a dual doctoral degree (DVM/PhD) at The Ohio State University I was invited to write a brief desciption of my laboratory’s research programs for the Newsletter of the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians.
As if I didn’t have enough to keep me busy, I started to research the human-animal bond. At the time there was a paucity of information available on the human-wildlife relations, aside from a few anecdotal resources. As mentioned, traditional studies have explored the relationships between pets and their owners. I relied on my experiences as a zoo animal keeper and work on cattle ranches for insight into human relations with domestic livestock and “special species.” I should mention that the human-animal bond is now addressed in the context of the coexistence of human and free-ranging wildlife as a conservation management tool.
Today, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recognizes the significance of the human-animal bond and its benefits to people, pets, farm animals, and wildlife and has instituted policies relevant to such issues.
One case that merits attention is our three year old moose bull, Jack. A popular animal ambassador– Jack has developed a particular rapport with intern Vanessa Gibson, a zoology major at Michigan State University.
Jack was brought to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center as an orphan. He had a fractured, right, front leg and a bite wound on his right hip. Given a 20% chance of survival, Jack was nurtured back to health by Vanessa. She tended to him day and night for three months living in a tent within his enclosure.
Below is a link to a film of Jack and Vanessa shot by Dr. Vic Van Ballenberghe, a noted Research Wildlife Biologist with the US Forest Service in Alaska. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOm1tBUncqQ
Continuing their very special relationship, Vanessa has returned for another summer. Although some have surmised that Jack would not remember her, by looking at the pictures below you wouldn’t suspect that for a second.