Adverse Reactions

Lions and Vultures and Tox, Oh My

April 14, 2022 Caroline Moore, PhD, DVM, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Season 2 Episode 6
Adverse Reactions
Lions and Vultures and Tox, Oh My
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How human activity, chemical exposures, and environmental factors combine to contribute to wildlife population declines is at the forefront of the research by Dr. Caroline Moore and other teams at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Dr. Moore unravels the role of toxicology in wildlife conservation with co-hosts Anne Chappelle and David Faulkner.


About the Guest
Caroline Moore, PhD, DVM, serves the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Scientist in Disease Investigations. In this role, she works as a veterinary toxicology researcher, providing molecular and diagnostic toxicology support. She uses toxicology, pathology, molecular diagnostics, and epidemiology to better understand how environmental contaminants, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and harmful algal blooms, create roadblocks to wildlife conservation and how to prevent them.

Dr. Moore is working on developing and applying environmental and diagnostic toxicology in Kenya, where pesticides are used indiscriminately; in Peru, where mining activities release mercury into the environment, impacting birds, bats, nonhuman primates, ocelots, and more; and in Zimbabwe, where harmful algal blooms may be an increasing threat. She is especially interested in developing noninvasive in situ diagnostic tests to better understand the challenges to endangered species and how toxicant exposures may impact future generations through altered epigenetics.

Dr. Moore earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California Santa Cruz, assisting with necropsies and research on the decline of the southern sea otter. She earned her doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology and her veterinary medical degree at the University of California Davis while on a US Environmental Protection Agency STAR grant investigating how globally present microcystins have toxic effects on the nervous system. She spent the next year as a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Los Angeles researching how environmental contaminants may cause reproductive toxicity through epigenetics, and the next two years as the SDZWA Steel Endowed Pathology Fellow, establishing successful ways to incorporate more toxicology into conservation field programs. 

Dr. Moore is an active member of the Society of Toxicology, the American College of Toxicology, and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, serving on committees and boards for comparative veterinary toxicology, early career professionals, diversity and inclusion, and regional support for Southern California. As an avid hiker, camper, and wildlife enthusiast, Dr. Moore has always felt the need to support conservation efforts through her research. 

[00:00:00] Adverse Reactions “Decompose” Theme Music

[00:00:05] David Faulkner: Hello, and welcome to Adverse Reactions Season 2. My name is David Faulkner, and this is my co-host,

[00:00:11] Anne Chappelle: Anne Chappelle. 

[00:00:12] David Faulkner: As much fun as the first season of Adverse Reactions was, I think Season 2 is better.

[00:00:16] Anne Chappelle: Hidden.

[00:00:17] David Faulkner: Secretive.

[00:00:18] Anne Chappelle: Exactly.

[00:00:19] David Faulkner: The toxicology that happens when you’re not looking,

[00:00:22] Anne Chappelle: or toxicology that you forgot about. 

[00:00:24] David Faulkner: It’s still important, and we’re here to talk about it. Welcome to Season 2 of Adverse Reactions:

[00:00:28] Anne Chappelle: “Hidden Toxicology.”

[00:00:31] Adverse Reactions “Decompose” Theme Music

[00:00:38] David Faulkner: The wild the side of toxicology. 

[00:00:41] Caroline Moore: As a veterinary toxicologist, what can I do? I started to think of those hidden tox questions: What happens to the birds that survive? Will they be able to reproduce again? And if they do, are those viable, healthy chicks, or will they have epigenetic changes in their germ line that will really kick up in three generations, like we do see with some of these models, and then the collapse happens?

[00:01:01] Anne Chappelle: Or, lions and vultures and tox, oh my! With Caroline Moore.

[00:01:06] Caroline Moore: We can sell a beautiful story about a beautiful jaguar, but it’s the whole ecosystem we need to focus on. And that’s where toxicology comes in because it does touch every plant; every microorganism will be impacted by what chemicals we find in the composition there.

[00:01:20] Adverse Reactions “Decompose” Theme Music

[00:01:23] Anne Chappelle: So, we wanted to welcome Caroline Moore to our podcast today. Welcome. My name is Anne Chappelle. I’m here with my co-host, 

[00:01:32] David Faulkner: David Faulkner. Hello, everybody.

[00:01:34] Anne Chappelle: Caroline, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do so that my mom could understand if she met you at a party.

[00:01:42] Caroline Moore: I am a scientist at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and I work in disease investigations. To kind of break it down, we have the San Diego Zoo, which is downtown; we have the safari park, which is in Escondido; and we actually have veterinary hospitals at both locations and then science research going on in both locations. And when I say science and research, what I mean is conservation wildlife science, and these departments can be anywhere from disease investigations, like I mentioned, conservation genetics, reproduction, recovery ecology. We basically have all these different fields, and we come together to try to remove roadblocks to wildlife conservation. So, the things I focus on as a veterinary toxicologist in disease investigations is trying to understand what wildlife is being exposed to in the wild, how it’s impacting their health, and what does that mean as far as the species thriving in the environment to its full potential? And if there is something going on, how do I suggest to stop it or change it or somehow help protect that animal in the wild?

[00:02:46] David Faulkner: I think that this is something that a lot of people may not know, is that there’s a surprising amount of research that comes out of these large institutions that have a lot of wild animals. 

[00:02:56] Caroline Moore: It’s a very unique situation because we do have the park and the zoo, where there’s fantastic welfare and animal health and science going on to better understand what these animals need, and then we connect that with our field program. So, if we have an African elephant herd and we understand what is their nutrition needs, how do they interact socially, all these dynamics that we can’t necessarily figure out watching a herd on the Savannah, we can then take that knowledge and then apply it in the field programs based on what we need. Thankfully, the tox doesn’t really happen in our parks and zoo, but there is environmental toxicology happening, so that’s where I can go back and forth. I can talk to, like, our vulture specialists—What is a typical vulture behavior?—and think about it from that point of view, and then go out and talk to our field teams and our partners in Africa and Kenya working with African vultures and be like, “OK, this is what we’re thinking. This is a technique I think we could use to figure out what they’re eating.” And move forward with that.

[00:03:49] David Faulkner: That back and forth is really surprising to me.

[00:03:51] Caroline Moore: The goal is to save wildlife; it’s not just to have wildlife.

[00:03:55] Anne Chappelle: I tend to think of conservation as making sure nobody kills the animals for poaching. When I think of Africa and I think of saving wildlife, I think about getting them bulletproof vests. I don’t think about having them be healthier, and that being a part of conservation. Maybe I think of reproductive health. I’m interested in how, from a tox standpoint, we’re looking at the health of the animals or their metabolism or the role of climate change. That’s a very interesting hidden part of tox for me.

[00:04:24] Caroline Moore: Yeah, and if you don’t mind, I’ll step one step back on the hidden thing because this is a job I never thought I could have. I did not know this job existed because it really didn’t exist. And so, a little bit with my background: I went to UCSC for biochemistry and microbiology. I always wanted to be a veterinarian and was working at a dog and cat clinic. And then things started popping up that was bothering me. I was in this cat and dog clinic, and we were giving antibiotics out to treat conditions. Totally normal. 

And then I started working for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, where I started looking at antibiotic-resistant bacteria in fecal samples being left on beaches, and those samples, that fecal pathogen was then getting to sea otters, and now we have sea otters potentially with pathogens we can’t treat. And I was like, “Oh, my gosh. This is big. This is huge. This is One Health. Everything’s connected.” And so, that’s what I learned what a PhD was. That’s when I started to learn what toxicology was as a field. Both my parents went to college and I knew PhD was a word, but I didn’t know what to do with it.

So, I started learning all these things and found out UC Davis has a dual-degree program, so I ended up doing my PhD in pharmacology and toxicology there while doing my veterinary degree. And I always still had this thread of wanting to work with wildlife, having a really deep passion for the environment and trying to do things better, but you’re kind of discouraged to thinking about wildlife. There’s very little jobs, you’re going struggle, all this sort of a thing. So, I kept it on the back burner and just kept moving forward with the science that I found really interesting and then kept trying to loop it back. So, as I was working with harmful algal bloom, I worked with C. elegans doing a benchtop model; I was wondering if we do find these are neurotoxic and not just hepatotoxic, what does that mean for every animal that drinks small amounts of this water on a daily basis? And thinking about that.

When I went to do my postdoc and was looking at the multi- and transgenerational effects of toxins where you expose the parent and then take away the toxin and you see each generation, see how things are changing, that just blew my mind. Like, if you think about conservation, we try to remove and mitigate the threat right then, and we’re like, “OK, great. The threat is gone.” But that threat might have impacts each generation that is really hard to track. One of the things I work on is poisoning events in vultures. And so, vultures are very good at cleaning up dead carcasses, killing off bacteria, anthrax, no problem. You give them some sort of heavy metal or a pesticide like organophosphate, they do not handle it well. So, I’m sure you’ve heard of the stories of giving NSAIDs to livestock. Totally normal thing. But then if one dies and the vulture ends up eating it, they get really sick and die pretty fast. And so, there’s actually been a big movement to change what NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, that we use in livestock so that those particular chemicals don’t end up in the vultures and kill them. 

But there’s other scenarios in certain communities where their livestock is their livelihood. For example, it’s the rainy season and a lion comes in, it’s hungry, it kills a livestock, eats some of it, and leaves it for later to come back to. Well, obviously, the community that owns that livestock’s very upset and very concerned that the predator’s going to come back and finish off more livestock. So, they take a product, carbamates, for example, that they have huge buckets of these chemicals available to them, and they’ll lace the carcass with the pesticide with the idea that when the predator comes back, it will die and we’ll remove this threat to our livelihood. And at least for me, when you hear that story, you’re kind of shocked because we were trained: we don’t want these chemicals—we have huge amounts of PPE, we know the lasting effects—but if you’re not trained on what is a poison and the fact that it doesn’t just do the one thing you think it’s going to do but it’s going to get in the soil and contaminate the grass, it’s this huge, long story of all the different things that could happen. Unfortunately, what often happens, it’s not the lion that gets taken out; it’s all the scavengers that come along throughout the day and night, including the vultures. 

There’s some other scenarios where this technique is used actually during poaching, like you mentioned, but the idea is to prevent the vulture from signaling the poaching happened, so they’ll lace the carcass to kill any birds pretty quickly. And there’s also a lot of using this to collect the birds in the first place. So, there’s a pretty big market for vultures. You kill them and then you collect the parts that you need to. So, there’s all these different scenarios that’s just wiping out the species. They’re a longer-lived species; they take quite a few years to get to reproductively active, so just one of these species that takes a very long time to recoup a population, and all these things are working against it. What do we do? 

The immediate thing is to change the human behavior to stop doing the poisoning. And there’s lots of fantastic people working on that aspect. But if I think of my skill set as a veterinary toxicologist, what can I do? I started to think of those hidden tox questions: What happens to the birds that survive? Will they be able to reproduce again? And if they do, are those viable, healthy chicks, or will they have epigenetic changes in their germ line that will really kick up in three generations, like we do see with some of these models, and then the collapse happens? And then how do we know that that collapse was related to three generations ago, exposure to pesticides, and not whatever newest catastrophe’s happening? 

So, it’s really complicated, and I’m just trying to start drawing those lines. I obviously will not have all the answers, but I could start taking the expertise at something like SOT and people who dive in deep to these different pathways, and be like, “OK, that’s really fascinating. How can I take your deep knowledge of probate toxicity and now apply it to my model, which is a vulture that no one really studies?”

[00:09:40] Anne Chappelle: When I’ve worked with toxicologists who were also vets, they were often just vets who went toxicology versus what you seem to have done, which is get your PhD in tox. Looking back, you can probably very easily connect the dots, but how do you tell somebody looking forward to connect the dots to get to where you are?

[00:09:59] Caroline Moore: It wasn’t a straight line. It’s really networking. Networking is the only reason I’m here. Within San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, the Disease Investigations Department, we have pathology service and histology and several board-certified pathologists here. And then we have our molecular diagnostic lab up at Beckman. They’re the ones who are working both on the clinical side and then also on the research side. So, within that structure, they have a resident program with UC Davis with pathology, and then there’s this fellowship program. 

I connected with another veterinarian that I knew who had done an externship here and was like, is there any chance anyone cares about toxicology at the zoo? I was actually visiting San Diego and I was just like, I would love to live here. Does anyone ever do this? And that’s when I found out the zoo even had a postdoc program. I skimmed through their current postdocs and projects on website, and I found that there was in giant river otters looking at mercury exposure through gold mining. So, I was like, “Alright, someone cares about toxicology. I’m getting excited.” And then, I was introduced to my current supervisor, Dr. Steve Kubiski, and he was just like, “You’re actually the third person who said the word toxicology in the last two weeks for me.” It was just the right time where the department was really like, “We need to go step beyond necropsies where toxicants might be the causative agent and start doing more research.” 

So, I did a two-year fellowship program through that, just to explore idea of toxicology in our field programs, and have a very long laundry list now of all the projects I’m part of. But I had to create the position; I had to convince people that this is real, this is how we’re going to address it, and this is why you need to put money towards it. Moving forward, my goal is to keep that up mentorship-wise, keep talking about it. There are wildlife toxicologists in the world. I’m on a WhatsApp with some of them, and that kind of defines how many people there are that do this, if you can put all the people in the world on a WhatsApp. We are there, and you just have to keep talking about it, because people do want to do it. It’s just the reality of, do I have a job that I know will pay X, Y, and Z with benefits, or do I go into this unknown and do postdocs until something works? It’s hard.

[00:12:01] David Faulkner: And that’s too bad because when you describe it, it sounds like the most fascinating thing. It’s CSI but vultures. You have these mysteries that you’re solving, basically, where it’s, “Why are the crows dying?” You’ve got to leverage all of the different technologies and all of the different specialties. Like, “Does anybody know about this?” Like, “Why is this happening?” And they’re like, “Get someone in here who knows about worms.”

[00:12:25] Anne Chappelle: “Stat. I need somebody about worms, stat.”

[00:12:29] David Faulkner: It feels like we could have an HBO prestige series here, is what I’m saying. 

[00:12:33] Anne Chappelle: Dr. Moore: Conservation Biologist

[00:12:36] Caroline Moore: That is what I have to do because when I went through grad school, you have a thesis. You know the direction you’re going. You’re diving deep. You have the tools. And you come here, and you’re like, “Great, so we have some kangaroo rats, and they’re bald. What are we going to do with that?” And then you kind of dive into it. My brain is like, OK, so they’re at least in the rodent family, and so there’s quite a bit of literature out there on rodents, but is it a San Bernardino kangaroo rat? No. They could have something different. 

There was another case I’m working on that has to do with a corona an island. They can’t figure out if it’s something infectious, so maybe now it’s something toxic. And it’s like, OK, you dive into the history of this island. It’s in the Mariana Islands. It’s next to Guam. There’s all these things from different wars. People live there. There’s golf courses. There’s landfills. We can’t test all 30,000 compounds that could be there from parents or metabolites or breakdown products or combinations of. What do you, what do you do next? 

So, I’ve had to break away from the quick gratification of like, I have a graph in three weeks, to being these month-long just intense investigations that takes a team, a global team, to move somewhere, which it has its own, brings its own satisfaction. I got to work with a team on the ground. I got to work with technicians to set up the first mercury device in the Amazon and test samples that we collected two weeks ago from a sloth. I got to have these amazing moments, but that doesn’t lead to necessarily a really cool graph that I’m used to presenting SOT and prove that I had this deep scientific knowledge of mercury and sloths or whatever, because I don’t. I just know there wasn’t much. That’s great. You know, it’s kind of switching, like, what my goals are with the tox and being way more applied and a lot less, like, mechanistically driven and having to make that switch. 

[00:14:13] David Faulkner: Which is so ironic because what you describe, you’re like, “Oh, man. I didn’t get to make this cool graph. I just got to set up this cool sampling device and find out the stuff about sloths.” The average person has that totally flipped. They’re just like, “Yeah, a graph. Whatever.”

[00:14:27] Caroline Moore: We have this drive. This is why I’m in toxicology, because I want to know why. I want to know the mechanism. And so, the next step after that is, what’s a safe level of mercury in a sloth? What’s a safe level of mercury in a sloth who is a juvenile? I don’t know.

[00:14:41] David Faulkner: These are the questions that keep me up at night. 

[00:14:42] Caroline Moore: And what do you with it? What if you find out it’s not appropriate and that the driver in the scenario’s gold mining that’s just destroying the Amazon River? What are you going to do? These questions become really big, and you get really overwhelmed. I have to remind myself: I am just one toxicologist, and I will do my part to make sure we’re at least talking about it, because oftentimes toxicology is not talked about even within disease surveillance. Disease surveillance means pathogen exposure. I’m just constantly like, “No, the disease can happen from environmental exposure, pathogen exposure, genetic causes, and most likely all three plus other things together.” So, we can’t just screen for the next virus; we have to look for everything. 

[00:15:21] Anne Chappelle: One of the problems that I’ve had over the years is that my research and the chemicals I study, they’re not sexy. They’re not fancy. I did an LD50. I did a local lymph node assay. Your cases, where you’ve got something that is sexy, how do you prioritize things to throw your energy—your limited energy, because you’ve got lots of things—at? 

[00:15:45] Caroline Moore: The realistic part of how I prioritize is often, like, what animal is dying the fastest and what we have money for, to be completely honest. It is a very collaborative environment, so all of the partnerships have to be ready to do the next thing. This partner has to be ready to put down the 20,000, this partner has to be ready to accept the samples, and this partner has to be ready to do something with that information. So, lining that all up helps set the priority. 

As far as getting the information out there, that’s something I take very seriously because when you’re talking about these assays, I need that information. I need that baseline. If you have screened these chemicals that’s going to come up in my random non-targeted screen, I need to know that there’s even LD50s out there, which is really hard for me to know and why I really want to build this bridge between something as unique the wildlife conservation world and what I know, because I’ve been going to SOT for 10-plus years, that there’s this wealth of data being collected on a daily basis. I just haven’t quite figured out how to make that efficient, but that’s my goal.

I’m part of an initiative called In Situ Laboratories. This is an initiative that is currently funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. If we think about, on a disease surveillance level, where our concerns are versus where our top reference laboratories are, they’re completely separated. Our concern are these really biodiverse, rich areas where pathogens and unknown exposures and things like that are happening, and then we have these certified, beautiful labs in the US, in Europe, and in China. Our idea here is, how do we make a trustworthy, reliable, efficient lab in the middle of nowhere? 

We’ve been doing this in the Amazon River. There’s the Los Amigos Conservation Concession that’s on the Madre de Dios River in the southeastern corner of Peru. This conservation concession has been there for 20-plus years, and it’s bordered by the Madre de Dios, which is heavily mined, and the Los Amigos River, which actually has a ranger station at the base to help protect it from mining. The biological station itself is pretty self-sufficient. There has been some of a lab there, but with this new funding for the Moore grant and this In Situ Laboratory initiative, what we’re doing is really building up a molecular lab. So, we have the genomics side of things. We have two Opentrons. We have a MinION. We have PCR. So, in theory, the samples can go straight from the field where we’re doing the marker capture programs—collecting hair, feathers, tissues, whatever—and instantly get extracted, amplified, tested, and sequenced right there. That’s just absolutely fascinating from a biodiversity standpoint. We’ll get to the where we can do eDNA. We can swab a paw print and figure out who’s walking by where. 

[00:18:12] Anne Chappelle: What’s eDNA? 

[00:18:13] Caroline Moore: Environmental DNA, the trace amounts of DNA in the soil: little pieces of skin from the paw left behind or, like, a fecal sample or something like that. So, we’re building up this biodiversity side: who is out there, who is related to who, what’s going on? And then we’re building up this pathogen/ecology side—so, what pathogens are in their blood, viral screens, bacterial screens, ectoparasite screens. And some of that is initially going to be very targeted, and then hopefully we’re going to branch into families of viruses and that sort of thing. The part that I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait. This project is cool and all, but are there any other concerns?” If you have an animal and it has this lesion and you find this virus, can you really make that connection that this virus is causing that lesion, or do we need to think about anything else going on? 

And it turns out, like I said, massive gold mining, which produces lots of mercury, so it goes into the air and it goes everywhere. What happens in amphibians? What happens in snakes? When you start to ask those questions, you realize there’s lack of data there, so what we’re building is this ability to test mercury at the site alongside all these other pathogen-type screenings and biodiversity screens and take this dataset, which is going to be collected yearly, and monitor over time to see if things that are happening in our world through climate change, through changes from deforestation and mining, have an impact on these animals. So, it’s going to be this fascinating long-term cross-biota study. 

[00:19:31] David Faulkner: This is not my field, but people that I know that do field work have a lot of difficulty with sample collection and transporting it to places where samples can be processed. My colleagues would joke about, like, “Well, we got all the baboons blood samples and maybe in a couple months they’ll make it out of customs, and we can actually do our research.” It just seems like this is such a gold mine, pardon the expression.

[00:19:53] Anne Chappelle: A toxic gold mine of data.

[00:19:56] David Faulkner: Yeah, where it’s like, and the quality so much more intense that you can actually make these causal connections in some way, and that seems just unbelievably valuable for saving these charismatic species. What sort of ways can you leverage this to sell this idea to the general public that not only is this good for the animals and for the environment, but also there are these further-reaching consequences for me living my comfortable suburban house? 

[00:20:27] Caroline Moore: You just nailed it. Why do I, here, care if the Amazon disappears? When you talk about the amount of effort we have going into a specific species of kangaroo rat, people are like, “Why? Why does that rat matter? We have so many.” 

I think that has a lot do with why we really care about In Situ Lab initiative. The idea is to have this blueprint of: here’s all the modalities you could use; given your area, your concerns, the pathogens you have, the species you have, this is what we would recommend deploying. Everything would be available online. Publishing is great, but I don’t want to republish the same paper with just slightly updated values every year. So, if you need to pull that data, you can reference, OK, this is database X version whatever. Also not even trying to pretend like I’m the best person to analyze this huge dataset. We need Peruvians in there working with this dataset. We do have Peruvians and they’re working with this dataset. This is where they’re from. This is their country.

[00:21:17] Anne Chappelle: This is their backyard.

[00:21:19] Caroline Moore: Yeah, it literally is a backyard. I don’t want to take those samples from them. They’re their samples This is their story. My job is just to make sure it can happen. 

In my personal opinion, we’ve forgotten as a society that the land is alive. Water is alive. All these things that you call natural resources, but that makes it sound expendable. If we treated the Madre de Dios River just as alive as a jaguar, just as needing our protection, just as much needing to be talked about, because if that water source goes, everything goes. We can sell a beautiful story about a beautiful jaguar, but it’s the whole ecosystem we need to focus on. And that’s where toxicology comes in because it does touch every plant; every microorganism will be impacted by what chemicals we find in the composition there. 

[00:22:02] Anne Chappelle: It’s hard because I understand where you’re coming from, but what’s happening with the lead the water in Flint? What’s happening with the air in California from the wildfires? Trying to translate those concerns in these other regions and bringing it back to here, that’s got to be hard. 

[00:22:20] Caroline Moore: And I think that’s the thing is you can’t care about one and not the other. If care about the life of the Madre de Dios, you care about the Klamath River in California. You have care about both. You can’t just care about one species in one area. 

[00:22:32] Anne Chappelle: How are you so optimistic? You have a very amazing skill set. I think that you’re an excellent advocate, and that passion you show, I wish more of us had that, or that ability to really effect change, because it can’t be easy to be constantly advocating for all of these things that don’t have a voice. And you’re screaming at the top of your lungs, “It’s in the water.”

[00:22:55] Caroline Moore: But that’s why we have a team. I couldn’t do my work without community engagement. I can scream all I want, but until we know how the people on the ground view wildlife, we can’t take the next step because it’s not going to work. If I’m pushing to save jaguars and it turns out, no, it’s actually snakes, everyone there love snakes, that’s the thing that is culturally significant. That’s the thing that’s going to shift a point of view. 

As far as keeping my enthusiasm, I do have these moments, like, my friend sent me news article about the three species of vultures in South Africa that’s now extinct locally. And it’s just, like, shattering, right? I’m the toxicologist and they’re dying from poisoning. What can I do? I can work with the incredibly smart people I am surrounded by here. And it’s like, well, you know what, I read a paper that in India they’re putting trackers on that as soon as they’re in proximity to each other it triggers a drone to go out and start videotaping. Let’s get a camera on there so every single vulture has a camera, and OK, I’m going to put a little backpack on there to figure out what kind of toxins are in the air that they’re getting exposed to, or maybe something around their talons, around their wrists, so if they’re tearing up a carcass and it’s covered in pesticides, that’s something we can collect later. OK, now we have a plan. Now we’re going to make a budget, and now we’re going to propose it, and then I’m going to send it out on this WhatsApp of all the vulture people and see who’s going to pick it up. So, at least there’s something I can try, and that keeps me excited.

[00:24:10] David Faulkner: I want to return this idea of you are not alone in this. I think that’s something that often gets lost in these conversations is that the framing of it very frequently ends up, it’s this valiant, brilliant researcher such as yourself against this giant machine. And who cares about these things? When in reality, from what you’ve described and certainly from what I’ve seen, there are so many more people that care about these things that are so much more engaged that they either don’t realize that they have agency or that other people also care. Could you talk a little bit more about what you’ve experienced in terms of empowering local communities? Because very often, I think, in the west, have this idea of what we have to go out and save the rest of the world when the reality is, hey, how about you let us save ourselves, or maybe if you want to help, give us some of the tools and let us figure it out. 

[00:25:06] Caroline Moore: You can say what you just said, David, over and over, and there’s people who still don’t get it. They still want to go in and, yeah, you want to set up a training program, but they’re convinced they’re not going to be able to find someone who understands PCR. And you’re just like, this country has amazing universities; of course we can find someone who’s super dedicated, super wants to be here, we don’t have to import someone. All of the work we propose, yes, want to investigate the cyanotoxic blooms in this country or whatever, set up some sort of monitoring event, but we’re also going to make sure there’s an in-country postdoc who’s going to be leading it. That sort of thing. Because these problems are just so complicated and involve so many people, I’m learning now to take my toxicology understanding, my wish to understand all these mechanisms, and shift gears a little bit to help facilitate what needs to be done. If there’s an IUCN in group coming together to figure out what we need to do about vultures, that’s going to take a ton of on-the-ground understanding of why are the vultures being poisoned? What’s going on? I can work on that part, but it’s going to take all these other groups to come together and make a decision that they don’t want vultures to die.

[00:26:10] Anne Chappelle: So, we have a couple of questions we like to ask every guest. What was your most significant adverse reaction? 

[00:26:18] Caroline Moore: Now, is a significant adverse reaction how acute it is in the moment, or can it be a chronic thing? 

[00:26:24] Anne Chappelle: However you define it.

[00:26:26] Caroline Moore: Can it involve this idea of bring told repetitively not to chase your dreams and you just say, “Screw it; I’m going to do it?”

[00:26:33] Anne Chappelle: Yeah.

[00:26:33] David Faulkner: Yeah.

[00:26:35] Caroline Moore: I would tell so many people what I wanted to do for career, that I wanted to work in wildlife. And they’re like, “Cool, great. But maybe you should work for the Water Board and test samples for cyanotoxins.” Or, “Oh, you like pathology? Maybe you should work in screening at an industry level.” I was so adverse to all of those suggestions, and I distinctly remember having the year of doubt: I was finishing school, and what am I going to do? And I’m going to SOT, I’m going to American College of Toxicology, I’m going to these places, and every job description people were telling me about, I just was like, “No, I can’t do that, I can’t do that, I can’t do that.” And that was really scary because it’s like, am I even a toxicologist if I don’t want to do any of these people’s jobs? But it was incredibly helpful for me to learn what it is, the thing I actually want to do. You can do almost anything. This is what we tell each other when we go through clinics and residency. And I think you can do anything for a year for the most part. So, I was putting that kind of boundary on things. Like, is this a job that I could deal with for a year to get somewhere else? Or is this the job that I want? And so, I kept using that kind of marker as I moved along and finally landed on this job and I had no adverse reactions and then moved forward. 

[00:27:36] Anne Chappelle: Well, this has been so much fun. Thank you for being our guest.

[00:27:39] David Faulkner: Thank you so much. 

[00:27:40] Caroline Moore: Thank you for your excellent questions. They definitely made me think. I’m going to have to take a moment to recoup now. 

[00:27:47] Adverse Reactions “Decompose” Theme Music

[00:27:53] David Faulkner: Next time, on Adverse Reactions

[00:27:55] Anne Chappelle: Anthropogenic ghosts on the coast.

[00:27:59] David Faulkner: Or, Joe Griffitt and the legacy of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

[00:28:03] Joe Griffitt: When you’re trying to talk to somebody who says, “Is it safe to eat the fish or shrimp that my family relies on to feed their kids?” That’s a whole other type of issue, and understanding that there’s the abstruse scientific understanding that we want to have, there’s also another level of what does this mean for people’s lives?

[00:28:18] Adverse Reactions “Decompose” Theme Music

[00:28:22] Anne Chappelle: Thank you, all, for joining us for this episode of Adverse Reactions, presented by the Society of Toxicology.

[00:28:29] David Faulkner: And thank you to Dave Leve at Ma3stro Studios.

[00:28:31] Anne Chappelle: That’s Ma3stro with a three, not an E.

[00:28:34] David Faulkner: Who created and produced all the music for Adverse Reactions, including the theme song, “Decompose.”

[00:28:41] Anne Chappelle: The viewpoints and information presented in Adverse Reactions represent those of the participating individuals. Although the Society of Toxicology holds the copyright to this production, it has,

[00:28:52] David Faulkner: definitely,

[00:28:53] Anne Chappelle: not vetted or reviewed the information presented herein,

[00:28:56] David Faulkner: nor does presenting and distributing this podcast represent any proposal or endorsement of any position by the Society.

[00:29:03] Anne Chappelle: You can find out more information about the show at,

[00:29:08] David Faulkner: and more information about the Society of Toxicology on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. 

[00:29:14] Anne Chappelle: I’m Anne Chappelle, 

[00:29:16] David Faulkner: And I’m David Faulkner. 

[00:29:17] Anne Chappelle: This podcast was approved by Anne’s mom.

[00:29:20] Adverse Reactions “Decompose” Theme Music

[00:29:24] End of Episode

Introduction to the Episode
Disease Investigations and Conservation Efforts
How Do You Become a Toxicologist for Wildlife Conservation and What It Entails?
CSI, but Vultures?
How Do You Prioritize Your Investigations?
Getting People to Care about Environmental Concerns a World Away
The Importance of Partnering with Local Scientists and Communities
What Was a Significant Adverse Reaction in Your Life?
Next Time on Adverse Reactions