As we update trainings and prepare for lectures, we often find ourselves digging through our photo archives for that perfect photo. Sometimes we find it. Perfect technique, good lighting, volunteers with determined looks upon their faces. We grab the photo and then we notice: no one is wearing gloves. I admit I’ve photoshopped gloves onto hands after the fact. While this might fix the picture, it doesn’t fix the underlying problem.
With all the photos I’ve looked through, I keep seeing people I know handling animals gloveless. Those people still have their hands and haven’t died of any weird zoonotic disease. So, what’s the deal with gloves anyway? Do we really need them? Does Mike Ziccardi just own stock in a nitrile glove company? The answer to that last one is probably yes. But if he does, it’s for a good reason. Your chances of getting a zoonotic disease are pretty low. But they are real. Add to that the cuts and abrasions common in our work, your chances are increased even further.
Consider the fact that you can also impact the animals. Working without gloves increases the possibility of spreading germs you carry to animals or spreading pathogens between animals. Lotions, sunscreens, insect repellants, and even the natural oils on your hands can cause waterproofing problems for birds. These products are even more of a concern for inland species, as they can be toxic to some reptiles and amphibians – killing the animals we are trying to protect. So, for your own sake, and those of the animals you work with where the proper PPE – including gloves!