Sharon Deem | St. Louis Public Radio

Sharon Deem

Dr. Deem examines a lemur while working in Madagascar.
St. Louis Zoo

The director of the St. Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine, Dr. Sharon Deem, wants people to understand just how much human health is dependent on the health of other animals and the environment.

She often shares the fact that since 2006, about 7 million bats in the U.S. have died from a disease called white-nose syndrome. The often-fatal disease derives from a fungus that arrived in the U.S. from Europe in 2006. While many people think of bats as pests, they are productive pollinators and eat a lot of mosquitoes. One bat eats roughly 6,000 mosquitoes in 24 hours. 

While part of the St. Louis Box Turtle Project, Georgette survived a serious bacterial infection and an animal attack. She died during the polar vortex at approximately age 15.
Jamie Palmer | St. Louis Zoo Institute of Conservation Medicine

For those who knew her, Georgette was a feisty drifter who lived and died in Forest Park.

She was also somewhat of a local celebrity.

The three-toed box turtle was one of the oldest subjects in the St. Louis Box Turtle Project, a study designed to understand the health and movement of urban turtles. Even among her armored prehistoric kin, Georgette was particularly tenacious. In 2014, she survived a serious bacterial infection, and a few months later, lost her front leg in an animal attack.