BALTIMORE, MD – The world has lost a great wildlife champion this week when retired Maryland Zoo veterinarian and conservationist, Dr. Mike Cranfield, passed away after suffering from an unconfirmed case of West Nile Virus.
Mike first came to the Maryland Zoo in 1982 as Chief Veterinarian. He subsequently became the Director of Animal Health, Research, and Conservation, responsible for the health and care of the Zoo’s more than 1,500 animals. In 1998, he became executive director of the world-renowned non-profit Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP), which was dedicated to saving the lives of critically endangered mountain gorillas living in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as endangered eastern lowland gorillas in the DRC.
Under Cranfield, MGVP expanded to include One Health programs for the mountain and Grauer’s gorillas living in Uganda and the DRC, orphaned gorillas, and for the people and animals working in and living near gorilla habitat.
MGVP was based at the Maryland Zoo until 2009, when MGVP partnered with the Wildlife Health Center at the University of California Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine and MGVP became Gorilla Doctors. Important blood and other genetic samples from the project are still housed in Maryland Zoo’s cryobank.
Mike leaves behind a legacy of contributions to global wildlife conservation and veterinary medicine along with hundreds, if not thousands, of people and animals he touched through his work.