Sentinel Surveillance

Wildlife Health Australia coordinates a Sentinel Surveillance Program that integrates zoos, veterinary clinics and universities.

The Sentinel Surveillance program captures information on free-ranging and rehabilitation wildlife cases from around the country. Now coordinated as a collective group by WHA, the Zoo Based Surveillance Program, the Sentinel Clinic Surveillance Program, and the University Based Surveillance Program began in 2010, 2014 and 2016 respectively. Each participating organisation has one or more surveillance coordinators, usually veterinarians or veterinary nurses, who select and enter wildlife disease cases directly into the eWHIS database.

In addition to data entry, surveillance coordinators are brought together via four program meetings annually. The information captured through this program is used to better understand disease threats to biodiversity, human health and livestock, and contributes to our national picture of wildlife health. This is an invaluable surveillance effort providing data that may not be otherwise available, while creating a network that facilitates communication between veterinarians and the WHA Coordinators

The Sentinel Surveillance Program organisations see over 60,000 free-ranging wildlife cases every year and have made over 4,700 eWHIS database entries since the programs began.

Sentinel Clinics


Sentinel Clinics


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Zoo Based Surveillance 

The Zoo Based Surveillance Program, a collaboration between WHA and the Zoo and Aquarium Association, was established in 2010 and includes ten zoo-based veterinary hospitals seeing free-ranging wildlife. Over 3,300 records from 250 different species have been entered by the zoos since the program began.

The nine participating zoos, who see over 27,000 free-ranging wildlife cases every year:

    • Adelaide Zoo
    • Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital
    • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
    • Healesville Sanctuary
    • Melbourne Zoo
    • Perth Zoo
    • Sea World
    • Taronga Zoo
    • Taronga Western Plains Zoo
A paper was published describing the program:
An article promoting the program was published by the Zoo and Aquarium Association to mark World Wildlife Day on March 3rd 2023:
Sentinel Clinic Surveillance

The Sentinel Clinic Surveillance Program commenced in 2014 and now includes 10 key wildlife veterinary clinics that have a high wildlife caseload or that expand the geographic and species coverage of the surveillance system. Participating clinics, which see over 35,000 free-ranging wildlife cases each year, are currently:

      • Adelaide Koala & Wildlife Centre
      • The Ark Animal Hospital, Darwin
      • Bonorong Wildlife Sancturay, Hobart
      • Boongarry Veterinary Services, Cairns
      • Broome Veterinary Hospital
      • Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital
      • Kimberley Vet Centre, Kununurra
      • Lort Smith Animal Hospital, Melbourne
      • RSPCA QLD Wildlife Hospital, Wacol and Eumundi
      • WA Wildlife, Perth.


University Based Surveillance

The University Based Surveillance Program consists of three universities that joined the core surveillance program between 2016 and 2020:

  • the University of Melbourne,
  • the University of Queensland and,
  • Murdoch University.

Four more universities also contribute through regular meetings with WHA.

  • James Cook University,
  • the University of Adelaide,
  • the University of Sydney and,
  • Charles Sturt University.

The university sector's involvement into WHA’s wildlife health surveillance system further facilitates the direct linkage of recognised experts working within Australia’s universities with the national framework and wildlife practitioners.