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Zoological Oncology and Therapeutics


Welcome to the Harrison laboratory. Our primary focus is on cancer across zoological species. This includes investigating cancer in zoological companion animals (i.e. rabbits, ferrets, snakes, lizards, birds, etc.), as well as species that live in zoos. Our goal is to learn more about what types of cancers these animals acquire, potential risk factors, treatments that have been used, as well as what is their survival time after diagnosis.

Our work is to develop and communicate the concepts and methods that are needed to confront cancer in zoological species.

Through our collaborations with other universities, veterinary practices, zoos and aquariums, we hope to collect as many retrospective and prospective cases of neoplasia as possible. As Vice President of ESCRA (Exotic Species Cancer Research Alliance), and lead investigator of the associated Exotic Tumor Database, Dr. Tara Harrison and her team of collaborators hope to grow the field of zoo and exotic animal oncology by determining better methods to inform improve diagnostic planning and treatment protocols for these under-represented species. To learn more, and if you are a veterinarian interested in contributing cases, please visit:

Current Projects

  • Avian cancer in published literature
  • Snake cancer in published literature
  • Exotic Felid cancer in published literature
  • Cancer and its treatments across species
  • Acupuncture therapies as adjunct or primary therapies
    -In addition to oncology research, Dr. Harrison and her team are investigating various alternative treatment modalities. Dr. Harrison is formally trained through the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in Reddick, FL and has been a visiting veterinary acupuncture scholar/instructor in Guangzhou and Beijing, China.
  • Investigation of cold laser therapy
    -Dr. Harrison has been using cold laser therapy for adjunct treatment of various conditions in zoo and exotic animals. She is performing research projects involving toads, box turtles, and sea turtles. She has treated all walk of life from turtles to bears.

Research Team


  • (2017) Evaluation of morbidity and mortality in lesser hedgehog tenrecs (Echinops telfairi) .Harrison, T.M., S. H. Harrison. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 48(2) 440-445.
  • (2017) Parathyroid hormone, ionized calcium, and 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in the domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo) . Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine.Canizzo, S., M. Rick, T.M. Harrison, C.A. Harms. | Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine. 26(4) : 294-299.
  • (2017) Case series of obstetrical and post-partum complications in lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs (Echinops telfairi) .Thompson, K.A., D. Agnew, T. Harrison. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 48(2) 446-452.
  • (2016) Case series of renal carcinoma in a family of binturong (Arctictis binturong) including treatment with pyelonephrectomy and a tyrosine kinase inhibitor.Thompson, K. A., J. Patterson, B. Kitchell, T.M. Harrison. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 47(4) : 1109–1113.
  • (2016) Retrospective analysis of 3 large nonhuman primate colonies and the incidence and treatment of retained placenta. Comparative Medicine.Bauer, C., T. Harrison. | 66 (2) : 1-7.
  • (2016) Technique for venipuncture of the facial vein in black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) .Schlanser, J.R., G.W. Bohart, D.W. Paperd, C. Wagner, M. Marquardt, T.M. Harrison. | Zoo Biology. Nov/Dec. 35(6) . 579-573.
  • (2016) Intralesional bleomycin to treat oral squamous cell carcinoma in a greater hedgehog tenrec (Setifer setosus)Brady, S., T. M. Harrison, C. Rodriguez, R.F. Wack. | Veterinary Record Case Reports.
  • (2014) Intestinal butyrate-producing community structure is governed by diet across the classes of Mammalia, Aves and Reptilia.Vital, M., J. Gao, M. Rizzo, T. Harrison and J. M. Tiedje. | ISME Journal. 24 October. 179.
  • (2014) Fecal endocrine monitoring of reproduction in female snow leopards (Uncia uncia) .Reichert-Stewart, J.L., R.M. Santymire, D. Armstrong, T.M. Harrison, and J.R. Herrick. | Theriogenology. 82(1) 17-26.
  • (2014) Gastric dilatation and volvulus in a red panda (Ailurus fulgens)Schlanser, J.R., D.W. Paperd, and T.M. Harrison. | The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science. 76(6) 901-903.
  • (2013) Infectious Diseases of Concern to Captive and Free Ranging Animals in North America, 2nd ed.Harrison, T.M. Canine parvovirus. In: Gamble, K.C., and M.M. Clancy (eds) . | Infectious Disease Committee, American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, Yulee, Florida. 1098 pp.
  • (2012) Disseminated pheochromocytoma in a North American river otter (Lontra canadensis)Schlanser, J.R., Patterson, J.S. D, Kiupel, M., Hencken, C., Sikarskie, J.G., Harrison, T.M. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 43(2) : 407-411.
  • (2011) Infectious diseases of concern to captive and free ranging animals in North America, 1st ed.Harrison, T.M. Feline calicivirus. in Napier, J.E. and K.C. Gamble (eds) | Infectious disease committee, American Assoc. Zoo Veterinarians, Yulee, FL. Pp. 374.
  • (2011) Survival and cause-specific mortality of eastern massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) in Michigan.Bailey, R.L., Campa, H., Harrison, T.M., Bissell, K. | Herpetologica. 67: 167-173.
  • (2011) Surgical amputation of a digit and V.A.C. (Vacuum assisted closure) management in a case of osteomyelitis and wound care in an eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli)Harrison, T.M., Stanley, B., Sikarskie, J.G., Bohart, G., Ames, N.K., Tomlian, J.A., Marquardt, M.P., Marcum, A.J., Kiupel, M., Sledge, D., Agnew, D. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 42 (2) : 317-321.
  • (2011) Pancreatic atrophy due to zinc toxicosis in two African ostriches (Struthio camelus)Carreira, V., Goadsden, B.J., Harrison, T.M., Braselton, W., E., Fitzgerald, S.D. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 42 (2) : 304-308.
  • (2010) Surveillance of rabies prevalence and bite protocols in captive mammals in American zoos.Zelepsky, J., Harrison, T.M. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 41 (3) : 474-479.
  • (2010) Malignant lymphoma in African lions (Panthera leo) .Harrison, T.M., McKnight, C.A., Sikarskie, J.G., Kitchell, B.E., Garner, M.M., Raymond, J.T., Fitzgerald, S.D., Valli, V.E., Agnew, D., Kiupel, M. | Veterinary Pathology. 47: 952-957.
  • (2010) Treatment of an amelanotic melanoma using radiation therapy in a lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrec.Harrison, T.M., Dominguez, P., Hanzlik, K., Sikarskie, J.G., Agnew, D., Bergin, I., Fitzgerald, S.D., Kitchell, B., McNeil, E. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 41(1) : 152-157
  • (2008) The influence of reproductive status on thermal ecology and vegetation use of female Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) in southwestern lower Michigan.Foster, M. A., Bissell, K.M., Campa, H., Harrison, T.M. | Herpetological Review
  • (2008) Use of positive reinforcement conditioning to monitor pregnancy in an unanesthetized snow leopard (Uncia uncia) via transabdominal ultrasound.Broder, J.M., MacFadden, A.J., Cosens, L.M., Rosenstein, D.S., Harrison, T.M. | Zoo Biology. 27: 78-85.
  • (2007) Treatment of malignant lymphoma in an African lion (Panthera leo) .Harrison, T.M., Sikarskie, J., Kitchell, B., Rosenstein, D.S., Flaherty, H., Fitzgerald, S.D., Kiupel, M. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 38(2) : 333-336.
  • (2007) Calicivirus epidemic in captive exotic felids.Harrison, T.M., Sikarskie, J., Kruger, J., Wise, A. Mullaney, T.P., Kiupel, M., Maes, R.K. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 38(2) : 292-299.
  • (2007) Toxoplasma gondii in an African crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata)Harrison, T.M., Black Moorman, J., Bolin, S.R., Grosjean, N.L, Fitzgerald, S.D. | Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 19: 191-194.
  • (2006) Surveillance for selected bacterial and toxicologic contaminants in donated carcass meat fed to carnivores.Harrison, T.M., Harrison, S.H., Rumbeiha, W.K., Sikarskie, J., McClean, M. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 37(2) : 102-107.
  • (2006) Enrofloxacin induced retinopathy in a guanaco (Lama guanicoe)Harrison, T.M., Dubielzig, R.R., Harrison, T.R., McClean, M. | Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 37(4) : 545-548.
  • (2004) Antibodies to canine and feline viruses in spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) in the Masai Mara National Reserve.Harrison, T.M., Mazet, J.A., Holekamp, K.E., Dubovi, E., Engh, A.L., Nelson, K., Van Horn, R.C., Munson, L. | Journal of Wildlife Diseases 40(1) : 1-10.