MP praises zoo elephant vaccine efforts

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City of Chester MP, Samantha Dixon, praised Chester Zoo for its world-leading development of a vaccine to combat a deadly virus threatening the survival of Asian elephants worldwide.

The MP for Chester met with conservationists including Jamie Christon, Chief Executive of Chester Zoo, to see the behind-the-scenes work the zoo is doing to prevent species from going extinct. Ms Dixon met with a team of elephant experts, and the Asian elephant family themselves, to understand the significant work the zoo is doing to develop a vaccine for Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) – a deadly disease threatening the survival of Asian elephants worldwide.

Recent estimates suggest there are fewer than 52,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, having halved in the last three elephant generations. They are also listed as endangered species on the IUCN Red List. The zoo is leading the international conservation community in a search for a vaccine. The vaccine is the first of its kind to enter a pilot study phase of trials and early results suggest it can protect elephants from developing life-threatening disease.

Ms Dixon said: “Chester Zoo is a local source of pride for the people of Chester. Not only is it a great attraction for the area, but the team is also leading the world in conservation and protecting species against extinction. “The work they do reaches far beyond the boundaries of the zoo. The breeding programmes they run are safeguarding species on the brink of extinction. And the work they are doing to develop a vaccine for Asian elephants is just another example of the pioneering work going on at the zoo. “The zoo is leading the world in conservation action. They are helping put Chester on the map as a leading city in environmental matters.”

Chester Zoo Chief Executive, Jamie Christon, said: “It was great to show Sam around our conservation zoo and highlight some of the vital species-saving projects we’re leading on.“On this occasion, we were particularly excited to take Sam to see two new areas at the zoo – our recently opened wedding and events space, The Square, and our soon to be unveiled immersive ‘out of water’ shark experience, Planet Shark. As a not-for-profit wildlife charity, everything we do is geared towards helping create a future where nature can survive and thrive and these incredible new additions will support us in our mission to do exactly that.”

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