Gorilla Doctors mentors the next generation of wildlife health experts in the region by sponsoring educational training programs in close cooperation with African schools and universities, and by supporting its staff in professional continuing education. In an effort to expand capacity building efforts in DRC, Gorilla Doctors partnered with Lwiro Primate Sanctuary (CRPL) and hired veterinarian Dr. Luis Flores to serve as the Gorilla Doctors Veterinary Advisor at the sanctuary.

Dr. Luis with Lwiro staff in DRC.

Dr. Luis completed his degree in Veterinary Medicine at the Faculty of Veterinary Science of Córdoba, Spain. After completing his degree, he worked as a wildlife veterinarian in Bolivia and Spain for several years before founding Wildvets with a colleague in 2002. Through Wildvets he worked with Rainfer, a Spanish rescue center for primates, where he was able to develop and focus his skills as a primate veterinarian.

Dr. Luis traveled to the sanctuary to begin the capacity building program in October 2016. Currently housing 72 chimpanzees and 92 monkeys of 11 different species, Lwiro is the largest primate sanctuary in east Africa. The sanctuary is accredited by the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) and the Global Federation of Animals Sanctuaries (GFAS) and serves as a critical refuge for poached chimpanzees and victims of the pet trade.

Dr. Luis teaches a workshop to interns at Lwiro.

In the last six months, five Congolese students and two interns have worked with Dr. Luis to expand their expertise in veterinary medicine. “All of the interns and students have received training in the daily tasks of the sanctuary vet department and assisted on all of the interventions that have been completed” said Dr. Luis. “They have also participated in four theoretical workshops: anesthesia and tele-injection, laboratory technics, immunology and tuberculosis and medicaments and uses.” Other workshops conducted by Dr. Luis this year include: necropsy procedure, wild animal pharmacology, castration and spay in dogs, tetanus infection, antibiotic resistance, one health and primate conservation, and suture technique. In addition to the workshop and intervention participation, each student is completing courses in computer technology and English.

Interns assist Dr. Luis with a veterinary intervention at Lwiro.

“The interns are well integrated into the veterinary department at Lwiro and now play an important role in the daily surveillance of Lwiro’s primates” said Dr. Luis. “I am very proud of what we have accomplished so far and look forward to helping these aspiring vets continue to grow their knowledge base and skill set”.