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Discovery
Researcher Walks Among Dying Baby Chimps

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Photo of a baby chimp and adult chimps.

Baby chimps in Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park are at an especially high mortality risk if they develop an upper respiratory infection. Researchers in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine have discovered the animals are likely becoming sick from human visitors to the park.

Credit: Brian Szekely, Virginia Tech


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Taranjit Kaur studies wild chimpanzees at Mahale Mountains National Park, a remote forest in western Tanzania. She has developed a software program to collect data on chimpanzee health. She has recently discovered that a human-related metapneumovirus that has caused morbidity and mortality in the chimpanzees she studies. Kaur aims to determine how the chimpanzees contracted the virus and from where the virus came. This video shows a day in the life of Kaur, revealing--without dialog--the experience of conducting research in the remote jungles of Tanzania.

Credit: Taranjit Kaur, Bush-to-Base Bioinformatics Laboratory

 

Photo of Drs. Jatinder Singh and Taranjit Kaur standing in front of their field laboratory.

Jatinder Singh and Taranjit Kaur, faculty members at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, stand in front of the Portable Laboratory on Uncommon Ground (P.L.U.G.), which serves as their field laboratory while in Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park. High-tech and environmentally friendly, this building will leave no trace of its existence once it is removed from the park.

Credit: Taranjit Kaur, Virginia Tech


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Photo of chimpanzees grooming each other.

After studying chimpanzees in the wilds of Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park for the past year as part of a National Science Foundation grant, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine researcher Taranjit Kaur and her team have produced powerful scientific evidence that chimpanzees are becoming sick from viral infectious diseases they have likely contracted from humans.

Credit: Taranjit Kaur, Virginia Tech


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Photo of Jatinder Singh examining a plant in Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park.

Jatinder Singh, a research assistant professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, examines a plant deep in the bush of Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park. Singh and his wife, Taranjit Kaur, have been living in the park for over a year studying viruses that are threatening the endangered chimpanzee population.

Credit: Brian Szekely, Virginia Tech


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Photo of graduate student Brian Szekely conducting a fecal analysis on chimpanzee stool samples.

Brian Szekely, a master's candidate at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, conducts a fecal analysis on chimpanzee stool samples in Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park. Szekely and his fellow investigators used research methods such as this to study the animals without ever touching them.

Credit: Virginia Tech


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