Zoo Biology

Published by Wiley

Online ISSN: 1098-2361

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Print ISSN: 0733-3188

Articles


Fig. 1. Capture of Notorynchus cepedianus from the Oceanarium, showing divers directing the bag with the shark inside toward the examination area.
Fig. 2. The ultrasound procedure, showing the shark in dorsal recumbency and ultrasound being carried out.
Fig. 8. Individual mean behavior scores for Dusky.
Ultrasound examination and behavior scoring of captive broadnose sevengill sharks,Notorynchus cepedianus (Peron, 1807)
  • Article
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September 2007

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222 Reads

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Serial ultrasound examination of four mature female sevengill sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) was carried out over 18 months. Monitoring the reproductive cycle and development of follicles and fetuses in sharks in a noninvasive manner using this technique has not been reported previously. Sharks were caught out of the "Oceanarium" tank by divers using a specially made catch-out bag, and brought to a holding area for examination. A behavior scoring system was used to monitor the impact of regular handling on the well-being of the animals. Ultrasound showed the growth and regression of follicles in sevengill ovaries, and allowed an approximation of the reproductive stage of these sharks. Monitoring behavior at five time points during the procedure showed that regular handling of sharks for clinical studies could be done with minimal impact on animal welfare. The ability to follow reproductive events in elasmobranches using ultrasonography is an important step in the application of assisted reproductive technology in these species. Assisted reproductive technology, such as monitoring female reproductive cycles and artificial insemination, could potentially be used to maintain genetic diversity and compliment aquaria-based breeding programs for endangered species such as the gray nurse shark (Carcharias taurus). Zoo Biol 26:383-395, 2007. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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Figure 1: Selected frames from the footage of the tool-like feeding behavior in the sixbar wrasse Thalassoma hardwicke. (a) the fish holding a large food pellet with its jaws (white circle), (b)–(e) phases of food manipulation (the preferred rock marked with a black square), (f) the fish having succeeded in breaking up the pellet into pieces (in white circles).
Tool-Like Behavior in the Sixbar Wrasse, Thalassoma hardwicke (Bennett, 1830)

November 2010

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418 Reads

There are only a few documented cases of the use of either tools or substrates (anvils) as pseudotools in fishes. Described here is an anvil behavior of a labrid fish, Thalassoma hardwicke, observed under aquarium conditions. This fish was fed with pellets that are too large to swallow and too hard to break up into manageable bits using jaws only. The observed individual carried a pellet to an anvil to break it up into pieces small enough to be swallowed. This feeding behavior was frequently repeated (observed in detail about 15 times), nearly always successful, and remarkably consistent, suggesting that the rock selected for an anvil is remembered and its functional qualities or other factors may play a part in its choice. These observations agree with evidence for other advanced cognitive abilities in members of the genus Thalassoma and suggest that, for welfare demand, rocks with rough surfaces should be provided to these fish, especially when they receive hard food for variety.

Preliminary report on the behavior of spotted-necked otter (Lutra maculicollis, Lichtenstein, 1835) living in a lentic ecosystem

March 2014

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807 Reads

Little is known of spotted-necked otter behavior, particularly in lentic ecosystems. In 2005, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) selected this species for management under the Small Carnivore Taxonomic Regional Collection Plan (SCTAG). In 2012, the AZA Otter group recommended this species for Red SSP status. As a result of the paucity of information on natural behaviors and the requirement of thoroughly understanding a species' behavior to properly manage ex-situ populations this study was initiated. Behavioral data was recorded on Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania between 2006 and 2009. Data was collected on habitat use as well as general behavior. Additionally, a complete catalogue of observed behaviors was maintained for future ethogram construction. Latrines, where scat is deposited, were predominantly located on projections and scattered in 20 m areas. The majority of latrines were located along forest edge habitats. Females routinely used key core areas for denning and extensive intra- and inter-sex overlapping of ranges was evident. Forest-edge habitat was used for denning; foraging and resting occurred along both forest-edge and emergent wetland shorelines. Behavioral results indicate this species is cathemeral on RINP. Average group size recorded was 1.99 with a range of 1-12. Group composition consisted of singletons or females with young. These basic groups often coalesced into packs which occasionally joined to form temporary larger schools. The results of this study will provide valuable information for the design and implementation of ex-situ spotted-necked otter management in the future. Zoo Biol. XX:1-10, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

TABLE 1 . The mass, length, and width (mean and range) of eggs from 11 clutches laid by one female
TABLE 2 . The incubation information and mass, snout-vent length, and total length (mean and range) of hatchlings from four clutches
Figure 3: Pair of Mitchell's water monitors (Varanus mitchelli) basking in the public exhibit at Perth Zoo. Male left, female right.
Figure 4: Front of nest box located in V. mitchelli exhibit in which clutches of eggs were deposited. (b) Nest box in V. mitchelli exhibit with lid removed.
Figure 5: Hatchling Mitchell's water monitor (V. mitchelli) with head protruded from a slit in egg. (b) Juvenile Mitchell's water monitor (V. mitchelli) 2 hr after hatching.
Successful captive breeding of Mitchell's water monitor, Varanus mitchelli (Mertens 1958), at Perth Zoo

September 2010

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1,782 Reads

Mitchell's water monitors (Varanus mitchelli) have been maintained on display at Perth Zoo since 1997. They are generally a timid species but have been maintained and bred in a mixed species water feature exhibit. In this article we describe their captive management and behavior with an insight into their reproductive biology. Between 2002 and 2005, 11 clutches were laid ranging from 13 to 27 (X = 20) eggs from one female. Egg size ranged between 3.00 and 6.08 g (X = 4.77 g) in weight, 22.8 and 31.9 mm (X = 28.3 mm) in length, and 11.1 and 19.3 mm (X = 17.1 mm) in width. Oviposition included double and triple clutches ranging between 41 and 60 days apart (X = 48 days), events n = 6. Four clutches were incubated at three different temperatures and hatchlings emerged after 157-289 days. The weight of the hatchlings ranged between 2.60 and 4.52 g (X = 4.34 g). Total length ranged between 140.1 and 178.0 mm (X = 165.9 mm) and snout-vent length ranged from 53.8 to 70.0 (X = 64.4 mm). Juvenile growth and development information is presented from hatching through to approximately 3 years of age.

Fig. 1. 
Fig. 2. Number of bird species and percentage of bird species (1981%, for example) held by Brazilian zoos from 1981 to 2005, in relation to the IUCN’s threat categories. Ex, extinct in the wild; Cr, critically endangered; End, endangered; V, vulnerable; Nt, near threatened. 
TABLE 2 . Number of Brazilian Zoos per Region, Total Number of Bird Species, Number of Bird Species by IUCN Threat Categories and Number of Breeding Birds per IUCN Threat Category
Figure 3: Percentage of bird species held by Brazilian zoos (ex.: Zoo 1981), from 1981 to 2005 in relation to the percentage of bird species in each IUCN threat category per year (ex.: IUCN 1981). Ex, extinct in the wild; Cr, critically endangered; End, endangered; V, vulnerable; Nt, near threatened.
Fig. 3. 
Role of Brazilian zoos in ex situ bird conservation: from 1981 to 2005

November 2011

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393 Reads

Zoos may play an important role in conservation when they maintain and breed large numbers of animals that are threatened with extinction. Bird conservation is in a privileged situation owing to the extensive biological information available about this class. Annual inventories produced by the "Sociedade de Zoológicos do Brasil" in the years 1981, 1990, 2000, and 2005 were analyzed. Variables, such as the number of zoos per geographic region; number of birds held; number of bird species in each IUCN threat category; number of exotic and native bird species; number of potentially breeding bird species; number of bird species in each order; and number of threatened bird species breeding, were analyzed. Brazilian zoos kept more than 350 bird species. The number of bird species and specimens held by the Brazilian Zoos increased from 1981 to 2000, but decreased in 2005. The same pattern was observed for the number of species in each IUCN threat category. Results showed that the potential of the Brazilian zoos in bird conservation needs to be enhanced because they maintain threatened species but do not implement systematic genetic, reproductive, or behavioral management protocols for most species.

Impacts of animal traffic on the Brazilian Amazon parrots (Amazona species) collection of the Quinzinho de Barros Municipal Zoological Park, Brazil, 1986-2007

September 2010

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149 Reads

Eleven species of Amazon parrots (genus Amazona) are known to occur in Brazil, and nest poaching and illegal traffic pose serious conservation threats to these species. When the illegal owners realize these animals are incompatible with their expectations and lifestyle, or when the police arrests traders and owners, these trafficked animals are often considered unfit for release and sent to local zoos and captive breeders. A retrospective survey of animal and necropsy records from 1986 to 2007 was used to evaluate the impacts of animal traffic on the population composition and mortality patterns of Amazon parrots at the Quinzinho de Barros Municipal Zoological Park, Sorocaba, Brazil. Data were obtained for 374 Amazon parrots of ten Brazilian species, and there was evidence that the studied population could be split into two major groups: a majority belonging to the Amazona aestiva species and a minority belonging to the remaining species. In comparison, the animals of the first group were more frequently admitted from traffic-related origins (98 vs. 75%), had a shorter lifespan (median 301 days vs. 848 days) and a higher mortality within the first year postadmission (54 vs. 37%), were less likely to receive expensive treatments, and were more frequently housed off-exhibit. On an average, parrots were found to have a short postadmission lifespan (median 356 days), with 92.5% of the birds dying within their first five years in captivity. The paper discusses the difficult dilemmas these incoming traffic-related animals pose to zoo management and official anti-traffic policies.

Sex Determination in 58 Bird Species and Evaluation of CHD Gene as a Universal Molecular Marker in Bird Sexing

May 2013

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3,295 Reads

The aim of this research was to test the CHD gene (Chromo Helicase DNA-binding gene) as a universal molecular marker for sexing birds of relatively distant species. The CHD gene corresponds to the aim because of its high degree of conservation and different lengths in Z and W chromosomes due to different intron sizes. DNA was isolated from feathers and the amplification of the CHD gene was performed with the following sets of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers: 2550F/2718R and P2/P8. Sex determination was attempted in 284 samples of 58 bird species. It was successful in 50 bird species; in 16 of those (Alopochen aegyptiacus, Ara severus, Aratinga acuticaudata, Bucorvus leadbeateri, Cereopsis novaehollandiae, Columba arquatrix, Corvus corax, C. frugilegus, Cyanoliseus patagonus, Guttera plumifera, Lamprotornis superbus, Milvus milvus, Neophron percnopterus, Ocyphaps lophotes, Podiceps cristatus, and Poicephalus senegalus), it was carried out for the first time using molecular markers and PCR. It is reasonable to assume that extensive research is necessary to define the CHD gene as a universal molecular marker for successful sex determination in all bird species (with exception of ratites). The results of this study may largely contribute to the aim. Zoo Biol. 00:1-13, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Postnatal Development of Echolocation Abilities in a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): Temporal Organization

March 2013

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293 Reads

In spite of all the information available on adult bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) biosonar, the ontogeny of its echolocation abilities has been investigated very little. Earlier studies have reported that neonatal dolphins can produce both whistles and burst-pulsed sounds just after birth and that early-pulsed sounds are probably a precursor of echolocation click trains. The aim of this research is to investigate the development of echolocation signals in a captive calf, born in the facilities of the Acquario di Genova. A set of 81 impulsive sounds were collected from birth to the seventh postnatal week and six additional echolocation click trains were recorded when the dolphin was 1 year old. Moreover, behavioral observations, concurring with sound production, were carried out by means of a video camera. For each sound we measured five acoustic parameters: click train duration (CTD), number of clicks per train, minimum, maximum, and mean click repetition rate (CRR). CTD and number of clicks per train were found to increase with age. Maximum and mean CRR followed a decreasing trend with dolphin growth starting from the second postnatal week. The calf's first head scanning movement was recorded 21 days after birth. Our data suggest that in the bottlenose dolphin the early postnatal weeks are essential for the development of echolocation abilities and that the temporal features of the echolocation click trains remain relatively stable from the seventh postnatal week up to the first year of life. Zoo Biol. xx:xx-xx, 2012. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals Inc. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals Inc.

Absorption and Ocular Deposition of Dietary Lutein in Marine Mammals

May 2013

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74 Reads

Cataracts and ocular disease are common lesions of marine mammals in zoological collections. Lutein, an oxygenated carotenoid, may have therapeutic or prophylactic effects on ocular disorder. Therefore, this study examined the ability of marine mammals to absorb dietary lutein. Two preliminary trials examined lutein in two forms (beadlet or ester) in a small sample size of marine mammals representing pinnipeds and cetaceans. Lutein was fed daily in tablets providing 0.89-3.6 mg lutein/kg body weight(0.75) per day for 15 days to 2 years. A third study was conducted using lutein beadlet fed at 3.6 mg lutein/kg body weight(0.75) per day for 15-21 days. Blood was analyzed for lutein pre- and postsupplementation. In the preliminary trials, lutein beadlet was observed to result in greater blood lutein levels than lutein esters, and cetaceans had more noticeable responses than pinnipeds. In Study 3, serum lutein and zeaxanthin increased postsupplementation in beluga whales (P < 0.05), and serum lutein tended to increase postsupplementation in dolphins (P < 0.10), but little change was seen in serum lutein in pinnipeds or manatee. Opportunistic retinal samples demonstrated some detectable lutein in the retina of a dolphin and several harp seals. The lutein levels in dolphins after supplementation are similar to those reported in free-ranging animals. Ocular lutein in harp seals demonstrates that ocular deposition occurs despite low circulating lutein levels.Zoo Biol. 00:1-12, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Fig. 1. Extent of iron absorption in fruit bats with 0.02 or 0.2 g of tannic acid in the solution. There was no significant difference in iron absorption between the 0.02 or 0.2 g treatments (P 5 0.75).
Fig. 2. Extent of iron absorption in fruit bats treated with (pooled doses) and without tannic acid in the solution. Asterisk indicates significantly less iron absorption in the presence of tannic acid (P 5 0.015).
Effect of Tannic Acid on Iron Absorption in Straw-Colored Fruit Bats (Eidolon helvum)

May 2009

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215 Reads

Excessive absorption and subsequent storage of dietary iron has been found in a variety of captively held birds and mammals, including fruit bats. It is thought that feeding a diet that is low in iron can prevent the onset of this disease; however, manufacturing a diet with commonly available foodstuffs that contains a sufficiently low iron concentration is difficult. An alternative is to feed captive animals that may be susceptible to this disease potential iron chelators such as tannins that may bind to iron and block its absorption. Using stable isotope methods established in humans, we measured iron bioavailability in straw-colored fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) and tested whether tannic acid significantly reduced the extent of iron absorption. Regardless of dose, tannic acid significantly reduced iron absorption (by 40%) and in the absence of tannic acid, iron absorption was extensive in this species (up to 30%), more so than in humans. Species susceptible to iron storage disease may efficiently absorb iron in the gut regardless of iron status, and supplementing these species with tannic acid in captivity may provide an alternative or additional means of preventing the development of this disease.

Abstracts.

July 2012

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12 Reads

Since the 1970s, Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary in Cornwall, United Kingdom, has built up a captive flock of red-billed choughs Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax and over 30 years has developed successful methods of keeping, breeding, and appropriately socializing them in captivity. A total of 77 nests reached the egg stage with 27 nests producing at least one young and 48 young fledging in total. Several components are important in achieving successful breeding and socialization. Provision of live food, especially ant's eggs and small mealworms and crickets, in the first days after hatching is essential, improving the condition of adults and survival of nestlings. Situating aviaries in quiet areas, away from public view, is important. Socialization in family groups during the winter months and allowing choughs to choose partners induces better compatibility. Introduction of nest cameras greatly improved young survival through early identification of health problems enabling treatment of young between hatching and 10-days old, when mortality is otherwise highest, and enabling precautionary medication shortly after hatching. We show that clutch size increases significantly with female age and that direct intervention such as artificial egg incubation and hand rearing can be successful and worthwhile, but its requirement is reduced by closer monitoring. Red-billed choughs provide a good model species to further develop captive management and release techniques that can then be applied to critically endangered species that show similar social and long-learning behaviors. Captive breeding programs can play an important role in such work through provision of suitable birds and supporting avicultural expertise. Zoo Biol. 00:1-11, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Abstracts.

July 2012

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72 Reads

The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a popular exhibit animal in many zoos and aquariums worldwide. Captive sea otters from these populations are owned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The USFWS has requested that these sea otters be prevented from breeding in order to save captive space for wild rescued animals. Sea otters are often housed in mixed sex groups, therefore a chemical contraceptive method or surgical removal of gonads must be used to prevent potential pregnancy. The contraceptive, Suprelorin® or deslorelin, has been used in many different species to effectively suppress reproduction but duration of effect may vary not only between species but also individuals. Here, we report the effects of one to several consecutive deslorelin implants on gonadal reproductive hormones found in fecal samples from six captive sea otters (two males and four females) compared to two control otters (one male and one female) housed at three zoological institutions. We documented the longitudinal hormone signatures of many stages of the contraceptive cycle including pretreatment (PT), stimulatory phase (S), effective contraception (EC), and hormone reversal (HR) that was characterized by a return to normal hormone levels. Deslorelin was found to be an effective contraceptive in sea otters and was found to be reversible documented by a live birth following treatment, however the duration of suppression in females was much longer than expected with a 6-month and a 1-year implant lasting between 3 and 4 years in females. Zoo Biol. 00:1-14, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Mutual Benefits of Research Collaborations Between Zoos and Academic Institutions

November 2008

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1,205 Reads

Zoos focus on welfare, conservation, education, and research related to animals they keep. Academic institutions emphasize description, experimentation, modeling, and teaching of general and specific animal biology and behavior through work in both laboratory and field. The considerable overlap in concerns and methods has increased interest in collaborative projects, but there is ample room for closer and more extensive interactions. The purpose of this article is to increase awareness of potential research collaborations in three areas: (1) control and analysis of behavior, (2) conservation and propagation of species, and (3) education of students and the general public. In each area, we outline (a) research in zoos, (b) research in academics, and (c) potential collaborative efforts. Zoo Biol 27:470-487, 2008. (c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

A Safer Method for Studying Hormone Metabolism in an Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus): Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

November 2010

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87 Reads

Noninvasive hormone assays provide a way to determine an animal's health or reproductive status without the need for physical or chemical restraint, both of which create unnecessary stress for the animal, and can potentially alter the hormones being measured. Because hormone metabolism is highly species-specific, each assay must be validated for use in the species of interest. Validation of noninvasive steroid hormone assays has traditionally required the administration of relatively high doses of radiolabelled compounds (100 µCi or more of (14)C labeled hormone) to permit subsequent detection of the excreted metabolites in the urine and feces. Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is sensitive to extremely low levels of rare isotopes such as (14)C, and provides a way to validate hormone assays using much lower levels of radioactivity than those traditionally employed. A captive Asian bull elephant was given 1 µCi of (14)C-testosterone intravenously, and an opportunistic urine sample was collected 2 hr after the injection. The sample was separated by HPLC and the (14)C in the fractions was detected by AMS to characterize the metabolites present in the urine. A previously established HPLC protocol was used, which permitted the identification of fractions into which testosterone sulfate, testosterone glucuronide, and the parent compound testosterone elute. Results from this study indicate that the majority of testosterone excreted in the urine of the Asian bull elephant is in the form of testosterone sulfate. A small amount of testosterone glucuronide is also excreted, but there is no parent compound present in the urine at all. These results underscore the need for enzymatic hydrolysis to prepare urine samples for hormone assay measurement. Furthermore, they highlight the importance of proper hormone assay validation in order to ensure accurate measurement of the desired hormone. Although this study demonstrated the utility of AMS for safer validation of noninvasive hormone assays in nondomestic species, this methodology could also be applied to studies of nutrient metabolism and drug pharmakokinetics, both areas in great need of further study in wildlife species.

Evaluating the Utility of an Accelerometer and Urinary Hormone Analysis as Indicators of Estrus in a Zoo-housed Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

January 2009

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36 Reads

Induced ovulators, such as the koala, do not always have overt signs of estrus, which makes pairing these animals for breeding purposes difficult to achieve in a zoo setting. This study examined the possibility of using alternative methods to behavioral sampling and weight fluctuations for monitoring estrus in a female koala of reproductive age. We attempt to gain an improved understanding of koala estrus and enhance our ability to detect it by combining a noninvasive technique for hormone analysis with a newer method for recording activity level. The findings suggest that activity levels were accurately measured using an accelerometer and increased activity was associated with one estrus behavior, bellowing. Weekly weight declines occur with increases in activity registered from the accelerometer. We also validated an assay to detect progesterone and estradiol in female koala urine in an attempt to detect an estrus spike. However, neither urinary concentrations of estradiol nor progesterone was associated with behavioral cues of estrus in our subject. We suggest that increased female activity, bellowing, and weight loss all indicate a pro-estrus state that requires proper male stimulation in order to achieve a full estrus display.

Estimating Daily Walking Distance of Captive African Elephants Using an Accelerometer

September 2011

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385 Reads

Two central concerns for elephant husbandry and management are whether zoological enclosures are appropriately sized and the degree to which naturalistic exercise and activity are observed in such enclosures. In order to address these issues, accurate data on the daily walking distance of elephants both in situ and ex situ are necessary. We used an accelerometer, a pedometer that measures step count and activity level, to estimate walking distance in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park. The accelerometer was worn simultaneously with a GPS unit that recorded actual walking distance. Estimates of walking distance were extrapolated from the accelerometer and compared with actual distances determined by GPS data. The accelerometer was found to overestimate step count, and subsequently walking distance, by including false counts of steps. Extrapolating walking distance based upon stride length measurements did not match actual GPS walking distance. However, activity level output from the accelerometer significantly correlated with actual GPS walking distance. In addition, we report that the rate of movement is comparable to that reported in other zoological settings. We provide a linear regression equation that can be utilized by other institutions to estimate daily walking distance of elephants in their collection who are outfitted with accelerometers.

How Access to Exhibit Space Impacts the Behavior of Female Tigers (Panthera tigris)

September 2011

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98 Reads

Little is known about how socially housed captive carnivores respond to temporary reductions in available space. We documented rates of aggression and affiliation in our group of six female tigers, under their normal housing conditions and during a period of exhibit renovations which resulted in a 50% reduction in time spent in an outdoor enclosure. During the period of reduced availability of space, significant declines in aggression and affiliation were observed indicating that these tigers responded in a manner consistent with a strategy of conflict avoidance. These reductions in rates of social behavior remained in place during the year following the return to their original housing conditions. Thus, even temporary alterations to housing practices have the potential to have lasting impacts on the social behavior of this species.

Validation of an Ultrasound-Guided Technique to Establish a Liver-to-Coelom Ratio and a Comparative Analysis of the Ratios Among Acclimated and Recently Wild-Caught Southern Stingrays, Dasyatis Americana

January 2013

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42 Reads

Southern stingrays, Dasyatis americana, are a well-represented elasmobranch species in public aquaria and other facilities throughout the world. This study was conducted at a facility that experienced some mortality and replenished the collection with wild-caught stingrays. A common necropsy finding among the stingrays was a small, dark liver. The objectives of this study were to assess the reliability of an ultrasound-guided technique for establishing a liver-to-coelom ratio by calculating the approximate length of the liver with respect to the coelomic cavity length and then to compare ratios between acclimated captive and wild-caught stingrays. The ultrasound validation phase of the study measured the distance from the caudal margin of the liver to the pelvic cartilaginous girdle and compared it to the actual distance measured during the necropsy or surgery. There was no significant difference found between the ultrasound and actual distance measurements (P = 0.945). This technique was then used to establish liver-to-coelom ratios and compare two groups of stingrays, presumably under different metabolic states at different periods. Liver-to-coelom ratios were established during initial examinations as well as 8 months after cohabitation in a touch pool exhibit. There were significant differences in liver-to-coelom ratios between the two stingray groups at introduction (median difference = 30.9%, P = 0.007) and after 8 months (median difference = 20.5%, P = 0.008). There were also significant differences in the liver-to-coelom ratios within each group at introduction and at 8 months (acclimated group median difference = 20.4%, P = 0.018; wild-caught group median difference 31%, P = 0.008). Zoo Biol. 00:1-13, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Differences in carotenoid accumulation among three feeder-cricket species: Implications for carotenoid delivery to captive insectivores

July 2012

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224 Reads

There are a limited number of feeder-invertebrates available to feed captive insectivores, and many are deficient in certain nutrients. Gut-loading is used to increase the diversity of nutrients present in the captive insectivore diet; however, little is known about delivery of carotenoids via gut-loading. Carotenoids may influence health and reproduction due to their roles in immune and antioxidant systems. We assessed interspecific variation in carotenoid accumulation and retention in three feeder-cricket species (Gryllus bimaculatus, Gryllodes sigillatus and Acheta domesticus) fed one of three diets (wheat-bran, fish-food based formulated diet, and fresh fruit and vegetables). Out of the three species of feeder-cricket in the fish-food-based dietary treatment group, G. bimaculatus had the greatest total carotenoid concentration. All cricket species fed the wheat-bran diet had very low carotenoid concentrations. Species on the fish-food-based diet had intermediate carotenoid concentrations, and those on the fruit and vegetable diet had the highest concentrations. Carotenoid retention was poor across all species. Overall, this study shows that, by providing captive insectivores with G. bimaculatus crickets recently fed a carotenoid-rich diet, the quantity of carotenoids in the diet can be increased.

Identifying Parentage Using Molecular Markers: Improving Accuracy of Studbook Records for a Captive Flock of Marabou Storks (Leptoptilus crumeniferus)

September 2013

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55 Reads

Extra-pair copulations (EPCs) leading to extra-pair fertilization (EPF) are common in avian mating systems, despite the prevalence of observed social monogamy in many species. Colonially breeding birds are interesting species to investigate the prevalence of EPCs and EPF because they show nesting habits including close proximity of nest sites and sexual partners, which are proposed to promote alternative reproductive tactics. Endemic to Africa, the colonial marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus) is one of the most commonly held avian species in North American zoos. The aims of this study were to use genetic information to verify parentage in a population of marabou stork housed at Disney's Animal Kingdom® based on five microsatellite loci and to investigate reproductive behavior. We compared genetic analyses of parents and offspring to studbook data collected through behavioral observations of parental behavior at the nest. Using genetic analyses to reconstruct the pedigree of the marabou stork flock using the program COLONY led to improvement of studbook records by determining parentage of an individual that had previously unknown parentage, and identified one individual that had a sire that differed genetically from studbook records. An important contribution of our analyses was the identification and verification of the most likely parents for offspring hatched in this colony and improving incorrect or undocumented parentage in the studbook. Additionally, the colonial nature of this species makes it difficult to observe and understand reproductive behavior. Gaining better understanding of the mating system of a species is essential for successful breeding and captive management. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Reproductive cycles and contraception of Black Lemurs (Eulemur macaco macaco) with depot medroxyprogesterone acetate during the breeding season

July 2007

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52 Reads

Contraception is a critical component of population management for lemurs, but concerns about potential deleterious effects of continuous, long-term treatment with synthetic progestins such as the widely used melengestrol acetate implant led us to evaluate seasonal contraception with injections of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera, Upjohn Pharmacia, Kalamazoo, MI) to limit the duration of exposure. We compared two dosage regimens in female black lemurs using vaginal cytology as an indirect measure of ovarian suppression. Our results indicate that both 10 mg/kg body weight at 90-day intervals or 2.5 mg/kg at approximately 30-day intervals can be effective in most females, although one female on the 10-mg dose showed signs of estrus at 53 days. Darkening of pelage during treatment was the primary side effect noted. A more important observation was that contraception can extend the breeding season to as much as 9 months, considerably longer than reported previously, which necessitates extending the period of contraceptive treatment. Zoo Biol 26:289-298, 2007. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Melengestrol acetate implant contraception in addax (Addax Nasomaculatus) and Arabian oryx (Oryx Leucoryx)

July 2007

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39 Reads

Melengestrol acetate (MGA) implants were used for contraception in three addax and three Arabian oryx females housed at the Saint Louis Zoo. Serum estradiol and progesterone or fecal estrogen and progestin analysis and ultrasonography of reproductive tracts were used for monitoring changes before, during, and after MGA treatment. Follicular development and irregular uterine fluid accumulation were detected in all females during MGA treatment. Although housed with an intact male for all or most of the contraceptive period, no pregnancies occurred. One female addax may have ovulated, based on sustained elevated progesterone levels, and another showed continued follicle development, as seen by fluctuating estradiol concentrations. Reversibility was documented in two of the three addax that resumed reproductive cycles post-MGA-implant removal, whereas the third, a peripubertal female, did not cycle before, during, or after treatment. Addax females were lost to further follow-up after transfer to another institution, so the possibility of subsequent pregnancies is not known. All three Arabian oryx ovulated during the initial MGA treatment, but two of the three females had implants past the typical 2-year efficacy period. They had regular ovulatory cycles after implant removal, with mean cycle length of 27.5±1.5 days and mean luteal phase duration of 15.2±0.7 days. Reversibility was further shown in all three oryx by pregnancies after placement with a male approximately 2 years after MGA implant removal. Two produced healthy calves, but the third died owing to an unrelated terminal illness in the mother. Zoo Biol 26:299–310, 2007.

Suppression of ovulation in Nile Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious) using melengestrol acetate-treated feed or high dose Depo-Provera injection

July 2007

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121 Reads

Analysis of fecal progestogen profiles during Depo-Provera injection (1,200 mg; DEPO, Pfizer Inc., New York, NY), melengestrol acetate (MGA) in feed (2 or 3 mg/head/day), and a combination treatment (DEPO+MGA) are presented for nine captive female Nile hippos housed at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida. All tested treatments reduced fecal progestogen elevations successfully to durations consistent with prevention of ovulation for a portion of the treatment period. Percentage of treatment months with suppression of luteal phases indicative of ovulation was maximal for high-dose MGA (91.7+/-13.9%) and DEPO+MGA (91.7+/-20.4%), followed by DEPO injection alone (69.2+/-13.9%) and low-dose MGA (57.6+/-33.2%). Both 1,200 mg DEPO and low-dose MGA (2.0 mg/day) treatments were insufficient to prevent an apparent seasonal breakthrough of ovarian activity from June-August 2002. Although luteal phases were observed, no females conceived during those months. Overall, in 133.5 treatment months with females housed with an adult male, one female conceived during the transition period between treatments. After cessation of contraceptive treatment, average latency to first normal ovarian cycle was 80.6+/-19.5 days (range = 22-179 days). Up to 12 months post-treatment, however, successive cycles were often irregular with evidence of short periods of anovulation and shortened luteal phases in all females monitored. In conclusion, high dose and combination treatments were most successful in preventing progestogen increases indicative of ovulation in hippos. Zoo Biol 26:259-274, 2007. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Achieving True Sustainability of Zoo Populations

February 2013

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857 Reads

For the last 30 years, cooperative management of irreplaceable animal populations in zoos and aquariums has focused primarily on the goal of minimizing genetic decay within defined time frames, and large advances have been made in technologies to optimize genetic management of closed populations. However, recent analyses have shown that most zoo programs are not projected to meet their stated goals. This has been described as a lack of achieving "sustainability" of the populations, yet by definition a goal of managed decay is not a plan for sustainability. True sustainability requires management of the resource in manner that does not deplete its value for the future. Achieving such sustainability for many managed populations may require changing from managing isolated populations to managing populations that are part of a broader metapopulation, with carefully considered exchange between populations across a spectrum of ex situ to in situ. Managing zoo populations as components of comprehensive conservation strategies for the species will require research on determinants of various kinds of genetic, physiological, behavioral, and morphological variation and their roles in population viability, development of an array of management techniques and tools, training of population managers in metapopulation management and integrated conservation planning, and projections of impacts of management strategies on the viability of the captive populations and all populations that are interactively managed or affected. Such a shift in goals and methods would result in zoo population management being an ongoing part of species conservation rather than short-term or isolated from species conservation. Zoo Biol. 00:1-13, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Serum concentrations of amino acids, fatty acids, lipoproteins, vitamins A and E, and minerals in apparently healthy, free-ranging southern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffe)

January 2007

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160 Reads

This pilot project began establishing a nutritional profile for free-ranging giraffe. The results will be used as a tool to begin assessing the nutritional status of captive giraffe. In October 2004 serum samples were collected opportunistically from seven adult and 17 sub-adult giraffe being anesthetized for different studies. Seventeen animals were from Double Drift Game Reserve and seven animals were from Kariega Private Game Reserve. The serum samples were analyzed for circulating concentrations of amino acids, fatty acids, lipoproteins, vitamins, and minerals. Information from 15 serum samples collected from anesthetized giraffe in Kruger National Park during April and August 2003 was included in the calcium and phosphorus concentration data. No significant differences were identified between genders. Significant differences between locations were identified for concentrations of certain amino acids, fatty acids, and lipoproteins. Differences between locations are likely due to different nutrient concentrations of foods and possibly the result of different animal densities forcing different food choices among locations. This pilot project may expand to include changes in circulating nutrient concentrations for free-ranging giraffe as is influenced by other locations, seasonal food availability, and different giraffe subspecies. Zoo Biol 0:1-13, 2007. (c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Influence of Diet Transition on Serum Calcium and Phosphorus and Fatty Acids in Zoo Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)

September 2011

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50 Reads

In response to new recommendations for feeding giraffe in zoos, giraffe (n = 6) were transitioned from a typical hoofstock diet to diets containing reduced starch, protein, Ca and P and added n3 fatty acids. This diet was fed as a 50:50 mix with alfalfa and grass hay. Over the next 4 years, serum Ca, P, and fatty acids were measured every 6 months (summer and winter). Serum Ca was not affected by season (P = 0.67) or by diet (P = 0.12). Serum P was not affected season (P = 0.14), but was reduced by diet (P<0.01), and serum Ca:P was also increased by diet (P<0.01). The ratio of serum Ca:P tended to be affected by season (P = 0.07), in which animals tended to have greater Ca:P during the summer vs. the winter. The diet transition resulted in reduced serum saturated fatty acids (including lauric, myristic, palmitic, arachidic, and behenic acids), and increases in n6 fatty acids (including linolenic and arachidonic acids) and n3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid) (P<0.05 for each). Overall, this diet transition resulted in blood nutrient profiles that more closely match that of values found in free-ranging giraffe.

Captive-Housed Male Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii) Form Naturalistic Coalitions: Measuring Associations and Calculating Chance Encounters

September 2013

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324 Reads

Cheetahs are known to reproduce poorly in captivity and research suggests that the reasons for this are behavioral, rather than physiological. In the wild, male cheetahs remain in stable groups, or coalitions, throughout their lifetime. Appropriate social group housing is important in enhancing welfare and reproductive success in captivity and this study examined the effect of changes in social group composition on the behavior of four male cheetahs: two siblings and two half siblings. During the study, the cheetahs were housed both in pairs and as a group of four, before one male was relocated. The remaining cheetahs were then housed in a trio. Affiliative behaviors were frequently shown within pairs and overt aggression was seldom observed. Association indices were calculated for each cheetah pair and corrected for chance encounters based on data generated from a Monte Carlo simulation. The indices showed that two coalitions existed before the relocated male departed. Following the relocation of one of the half siblings, the remaining cheetahs appeared to form a coalition of three, as the indices of association between the unrelated male and the siblings increased and allogrooming between unrelated individuals was observed. The findings of this study indicate that natural social groupings of male cheetahs can be successfully replicated in captivity, which could potentially improve the chances of reproductive success when they are introduced to female cheetahs. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Blood values of adult captive cheetahs ( Acinonyx jubatus ) fed either supplemented beef or whole rabbit carcasses

November 2012

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550 Reads

This study evaluated nutrient intake and relevant blood parameters of 14 captive cheetahs, randomly assigned to a meat-only diet (supplemented beef, SB) or a whole prey diet (whole rabbit, WR) for 4 weeks each. Despite a higher food intake, daily metabolizable energy intake was lower when fed WR (308 kJ BW(-1) ) compared with SB (347 kJ BW(-1) ) (P = 0.002). The ratio of protein to fat was markedly lower for WR (2.3:1) compared with SB (8.8:1), which was reflected in higher serum urea levels when fed SB (P =0.033), and a tendency for elevated cholesterol levels when fed WR (P =0.055). Taurine intake of cheetahs fed WR was low (0.06% on DM basis); however, analytical error during taurine analysis cannot be ruled out. Feeding WR resulted in a well-balanced mineral intake, in contrast to SB. The latter provided a low calcium:phosphorus ratio (1:2.3), thereby increasing the risk of metabolic bone disease. The high zinc content of SB (200 mg/kg DM), compared with WR (94 mg/kg DM), was reflected in higher serum zinc concentrations (P =0.011). Feeding WR resulted in an increase in serum vitamin A (P =0.011). Therefore, the risk of hypervitaminosis A in captive cheetahs when fed WR exclusively on a long-term basis should be evaluated. Our findings suggest that neither diet is likely to provide appropriate nutrition to captive cheetahs when fed exclusively. Zoo Biol 30:1-13, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Fig. 1. 
TABLE 1 . Number of Skulls with Focal Palatine Erosion/Number of Evaluated Felid Skulls. (Prevalence Estimated with 95% Confidence Intervals)
Figure 2: Mucosal depression caused by lower right molar in the palate of a captive Caracal (Caracal caracal) detected during physical examination.
Fig. 2. 
TABLE 2 . Prevalence of Focal Palatine Erosion in Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Skulls
Focal Palatine Erosion in Captive and Free-Living Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and Other Felid Species

March 2012

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871 Reads

We examined 1,092 skulls of captive and free-living individuals, representing 33 felid species, to determine the prevalence of focal palatine erosion (FPE). FPE was detected in 3.2% of cats evaluated, including cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and 14 other felid species. The prevalence of FPE between cheetah (9.4%; n = 64) and non-cheetah species (2.8%; n = 1,028) (χ(2) test; P = 0.004) and between captive (5.7%; n = 246) and free-living (2.4%; n = 824) individuals (χ(2) test; P = 0.010) were significantly different, with prevalence between captive (19%; n = 21) and free-living (2.9%; n = 34) cheetahs approaching significance (Fisher's exact test; P = 0.064). FPE was diagnosed with equal prevalence in skulls from individuals in which the lower molars did not meet the palatine bone (60.6%) and individuals in which it did (39.4%; n = 33) (χ(2) test; P = 0.139). In cheetahs with FPE, one was a captive animal in Germany, one a free-living cheetah from Mali, one captive cheetah from Kenya, and three captive cheetahs of unknown origin. Additionally, we evaluated the medical records of 49 captive cheetahs in Namibia. Of these cheetahs, 48 (98.0%) had clinical signs consistent with FPE, although only 16 of these 48 (39.6%) had perforation of the palatine bone. Based on physical examinations, FPE was diagnosed in two caracals (Caracal caracal) and one fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) from a North American Zoo. Results from this study confirm FPE in cheetahs outside of Namibia, in a minimum of 15 felid species, and a higher FPE prevalence in captive individuals than free-living ones. Clinical implications of these findings and recommendations for future studies are provided.

Evaluation of two milk replacers fed to hand-reared cheetah cubs (Acinonyx jubatus): Nutrient composition, apparent total tract digestibility, and comparison to maternal cheetah milk

July 2011

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173 Reads

Commercially prepared milk replacers are frequently used to provide the sole source of nutrition for hand-reared cheetah cubs (Acinonyx jubatus). The nutrient composition of two commonly used milk replacers was determined. Using titanium dioxide as an indigestible marker, nutrient digestibility was calculated from the analyses of fecal samples collected from each cub (n = 4 on formula 1, and n = 2 on formula 2). Mean apparent total tract digestibility for both formulas was >90% for all nutrients analyzed (crude protein, amino acids, crude fat (CF), and dry matter). However, the total CF content and the concentration of the essential fatty acids, such as α-linolenic, linolenic, and arachidonic acid, of both formulas was lower than reported for maternal cheetah milk. Additionally, one formula contained a comparatively high amount of carbohydrate, at the expense of protein. Although data were lacking for cheetah maternal milk, comparison with domestic cat milk revealed high concentrations of a number of minerals (K, Fe, Zn, and Cu), while vitamin D(3) was not detected in one formula. Both formulas were low in the majority of essential amino acids compared with domestic cat maternal milk. Despite their apparently high digestibility, neither formula was complete or balanced in terms of nutrient concentrations and ratios when maternal cheetah milk and/or the requirements established for growth in domestic cats were used as estimates of ideal. On this basis, although all cubs in this study were healthy and maintained good body conditions for the duration of the trial, the results of dietary analyses indicate that these milk replacers may not provide optimal nutrition for growth in cheetah cubs when used for extended periods.

Number, Sex, Average Age, and Year of Entry of Cheetahs on Trials A and B
Annual Gastritis Scores for Cheetahs on Trial B
Effect of diet on the incidence of and mortality owing to gastritis and renal disease in captive cheetahs ( Acinonyx jubatus ) in South Africa

November 2012

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408 Reads

Seventy-two adult cheetahs were evaluated for the degree of gastritis by endoscopic biopsy and for renal disease by serum creatinine. Cheetahs free of Grade 3 gastritis and renal disease were placed on Trial A; remaining cheetahs were placed on Trial B, which ran concurrently. All cheetahs were monitored for 4 years. Cheetahs exited Trial A and entered Trial B if they developed Grade 3 gastritis or renal disease. Cheetahs exited Trial B if they developed clinical gastritis or renal disease that required a dietary change or aggressive medical therapy or died owing to either disease. Cheetahs on Trial A were fed either a supplemented meat diet (N = 26) or commercial cat food (N =22). Cheetahs on Trial B were fed either the same meat diet (N =28) or a commercial dry cat food formulated for renal disease (N =16). Cheetahs fed meat on Trial A had a daily hazard of developing Grade 3 gastritis 2.21 times higher (95% CI 0.95-5.15) than cheetahs fed commercial cat food. This hazard was not statistically significant (P =0.07). Mean gastritis scores were not significantly different between the two groups. Cheetahs fed commercial cat food in both Trials had lower serum urea levels and higher creatinine levels than those fed meat. Evidence for the effect of diet in cheetahs with gastritis and/or renal disease (Trial B) was inconclusive. The number of cheetahs dying of gastritis or renal disease at the facility has dropped markedly since the study began. These results indicate that diet may play an important role in the incidence of Grade 3 gastritis and that dietary and/or therapeutic management of gastritis may reduce mortality owing to gastritis and renal disease in captive cheetahs. Zoo Biol 30:1-14, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Bilateral Carpal Valgus Deformity in Hand-Reared Cheetah Cubs (Acinonyx jubatus)

March 2011

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145 Reads

Four hand-reared cheetah cubs (Acinonyx jubatus) exhibited progressively severe bilateral valgus deformity of the carpi (CV) during the weaning period. Radiographs of the thoracic limbs suggested normal bone ossification, and serum chemistry was unremarkable. All affected cubs developed CV shortly after the onset of gastroenteritis, which was treated medically, and included use of a prescription diet. A sudden decrease in growth rate was associated with gastrointestinal disease. Before gastroenteritis and CV, affected cubs had higher growth rates than unaffected cubs, despite similar mean daily energy intake. Return to normal thoracic limb conformation was consequent to dietary manipulation (including a reduction in energy intake and vitamin and mineral supplementation), as well as decreased growth rates and recovery from gastroenteritis. The cause of the CV is likely to have been multi-factorial with potentially complex physiological interactions involved.

Partial Replacement of an Artificial Nectar Diet With Native Browse for Feather-Tail Gliders (Acrobates pygmaeus) in Captivity.

July 2013

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106 Reads

Captive-bred feather-tail gliders (Acrobates pygmaeus) housed at Taronga Zoo have had a long history of eye cholesterol plaques that may be associated with a largely sugar-based diet such as artificial nectar. The gliders also have prolonged periods of reduced activity when they are not visible in exhibits. This may be due to the ad libitum supply of an energy rich feed and reduced need to forage. This study examined behavioral and physiological changes associated with supplementing the high sugar-based diet with two species of native browse. The experiment was conducted over two consecutive periods of 3 weeks and consisted of two treatment groups: one group was offered the artificial nectar only, while the other group was offered the artificial nectar supplemented with a variety of native flowers. Live weight was recorded weekly. There was no change (P > 0.10) in artificial nectar intake with the supplementation of native browse in the diet. Blood metabolites (cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose) tested for the two groups had no differences (P > 0.10) between treatments. Upon examination, there were no signs of tooth decay or cholesterol plaques in all animals throughout the experiment. Feed intake and behavior were recorded via sensor cameras. There was an increase (P < 0.05) in the daily foraging activity of gliders supplemented with native flowers compared to gliders fed the artificial nectar alone. In conclusion, supplementing to provide a more native diet to A. pygmaeus enhanced their natural foraging behavior, suggesting that it may result in long-term improvements in their health. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals Inc.

A Case Study of Malayan Tapir ( Tapirus indicus ) Husbandry Practice Across 10 Zoological Collections

May 2013

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909 Reads

The Malayan, or Asian, tapir (Tapirus indicus) has a diminishing wild population and is becoming more common in captivity as zoos attempt to manage sustainable ex situ populations. Tapirs can be relatively easy to maintain and breed, but captive animals appear to suffer from reduced activity budgets, obesity, and poor public image. A questionnaire-based survey was designed and sent specifically to 10 collections around the world that exhibit Malayan tapirs, with the aim of assessing husbandry regimes to determine prevalence of standardized practices as well as highlighting any key differences, and to showcase good practice, thus providing information beneficial to those maintaining this species in their zoo. Twenty-five animals were included in the survey from collections across four continents. The research's major conclusions show differing dietary make-up, with a lack of forage provision, contrasting with a diverse array of enrichment protocols used. Significant differences were noted between zoos for total amount of food offered (P = 0.000) as well as ratios of forage to concentrate pellet offered (P = 0.004). Comparing food offered to male and female tapirs with published requirements for an "average" of either gender shows not all zoos providing the amount suggested in husbandry guidelines. Intelligently designed and original enrichment was provided to all animals but differences between zoos were noted in the application and "usefulness" of enrichment for individual tapir. Overall, animals are benefiting from enrichment but welfare could be further improved via consistent feeding of ad libitum forage and regular use of browse as a constituent part of daily rations. Zoo Biol. 00:1-16, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

May Captive Populations of Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) Act as Genetic Reservoirs in Argentina?

January 2010

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36 Reads

The Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) is a characteristic bird of the Argentine Pampas. Despite the increasing farming interest of this ratite, their natural populations are progressively decreasing in size and range. The object of this study was to evaluate the status of captive populations as potential genetic reservoirs. Using Inter-Simple Sequence Repeats as molecular markers, levels of genetic variability of F1 individuals from two captive populations were estimated and compared with those of wild populations in the same region. The captive populations were polymorphic for 12.22 and 13.33% of the loci, with a genetic diversity of 0.050. Differences with wild populations were not significant (z=1.79; P>0.05). Therefore, captive populations of rheas in Argentina should not be overlooked as genetic reservoir and source of individuals for reinforcement of natural populations, through reintroduction and translocation.

The Use of Long Acting Subcutaneous Levonorgestrel (LNG) Gel Depot as an Effective Contraceptive Option for Cotton-Top Tamarins (Saguinus oedipus)

September 2011

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163 Reads

Cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) are a critically endangered species that have been bred successfully in captivity for many years. For two decades, the Cotton-top Tamarin SSP(©) has been challenged with a high rate of reproduction combined with a history of contraceptive failures and nonrecommended births using the current Depo Provera(®) (medroxyprogesterone acetate) injection followed by MGA (melengestrol acetate) implant contraception combination. To address these issues we have developed and tested the use of levonorgestrel (LNG) as an effective contraception option for cotton-top tamarins. LNG was delivered in an injectable, gel matrix consisting of polylactic-co-glycolic acid, triethyl citrate and N-methylpyrrolidone. This gel matrix forms a biodegradable depot at the subcutaneous injection site providing slow release of the active ingredient. Gel matrix composition and LNG concentration were adjusted in four gel formulations to maximize the duration of contraceptive efficacy while minimizing immediate post-injection increases in fecal LNG concentration. LNG treatment (68.44 ± 8.61 mg/kg) successfully eliminated ovarian cycles (fecal pregnanediol-3-glucuronide (PdG) and estrone conjugates (E(1) C)) for 198.8 ± 70.3 days (formulation four; range 19-50 weeks). It was demonstrated that subcutaneous LNG depot injection was an effective, reversible contraceptive option for the management of cotton-top tamarins in captivity.

Fig. 2. (a) Annual home range (95% convex polygon) and core areas of a sample springbok female. (b) Annual home ranges (95% convex polygon) and core areas of the two springbok adult males (dotted line and hatched area: M1; solid line and gray area: M2). (c) Annual home ranges (95% convex polygon) and core areas of the three springbok subadult males (lines: limits of the home ranges; core areas in gray).
Fig. 4. Results of the correspondence analysis carried out on the matrix of 50 springbok female-acts by 11 sectors (S1-S11). fe, feeding; re, rest; sx, sexual behavior; mt, maternal behavior.
Fig. 6. Results of the correspondence analysis carried out on the matrix of 29 springbok male-acts by 11 sectors (S1–S11). Fe, feeding; re, rest; sx, sexual behavior; ag, aggressive behavior; av, avoidance; ma, marking behavior. M1 and M2, adult males; M3 to M5, subadult males.  
Spatial Organization and Spatial Distribution of Activities Within Home Ranges in a Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) Captive Population

January 2008

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254 Reads

We studied over 1 year the spatial organization and the spatial distribution of activities in a captive springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) population living in an 18-ha enclosure located in southern France. Throughout the study period, the two adult males occupied fairly exclusive home ranges, in the overlapping part of which the three subadult males were restricted. The spatial and temporal distribution of aggressive, marking, and avoidance behavior of males showed that the two adults were territorial, except during summer. They accounted for 71% of all marking behaviors recorded, for 77% of the aggressive behavior, and for 91% of the sexual interactions, whereas subadult males accounted for 94% of the avoidance behavior observed. The adult females used the whole enclosure, moving through the males' home ranges. They fed everywhere, but they all had the same preferred resting area, located in the center of the territory of one of the two adult males. They gave birth, accounted for maternal behavior and were engaged in sexual interactions in sectors differing from one individual to the other, but mainly outside the sector where all males' home ranges overlapped. Our results are compared to those reported in natural conditions and lead us to discuss both the functional interpretations of marking behavior, and the signification of a home range for an ungulate. Zoo Biol 27:19-35, 2008. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Similarities and differences in activities and agonistic behavior of male Eastern grey kangaroos (Macropusgiganteus) in captivity and the wild

February 2000

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199 Reads

The behavior of free-ranging and captive Eastern grey kangaroos Macropus giganteus, was observed by the same observers, with similar methods and under similar vegetational/climatic conditions in a 4.2-ha enclosure at Neuwied Zoo, Germany and at Grampians National Park, Victoria, Australia. Data were collected from a zoo group of 56 animals and a free-ranging mob of 50 to 60 animals. Males were individually identified and observed: 3 large males, 9 medium males, and 10 small males in the zoo, and 8 large, 9 medium, and approximately 10 small males in the National Park were present. Activities in both situations were very similarly distributed: Feed took up less time in the zoo, resting was almost similar in both situations, alert behavior was significantly different for small and medium males, locomotor activities were similar in large males and females, autogrooming occurred significantly more in the zoo only for females. Frequencies of social interactions were slightly greater for large males and females in the zoo. Agonistic behavior in males was more frequent in the zoo situation, except for ritualized fights. Sequences of agonistic behavior were more predictable in the zoo. No differences in escalation tendencies toward potentially injurious fighting could be found. Zoo Biol 19:529-539, 2000. Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Initial Findings on Visual Acuity Thresholds in an African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

January 2009

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89 Reads

There are only a few published examinations of elephant visual acuity. All involved Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and found visual acuity to be between 8' and 11' of arc for a stimulus near the tip of the trunk, equivalent to a 0.50 cm gap, at a distance of about 2 m from the eyes. We predicted that African elephants (Loxodonta africana) would have similarly high visual acuity, necessary to facilitate eye-trunk coordination for feeding, drinking and social interactions. When tested on a discrimination task using Landolt-C stimuli, one African elephant cow demonstrated a visual acuity of 48' of arc. This represents the ability to discriminate a gap as small as 2.75 cm in a stimulus 196 cm from the eye. This single-subject study provides a preliminary estimate of the visual acuity of African elephants.

Social Factors Influence Ovarian Acyclicity in Captive African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

January 2009

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134 Reads

Nearly one-third of reproductive age African elephants in North America that are hormonally monitored fail to exhibit estrous cycle activity, which exacerbates the nonsustainability of the captive population. Three surveys were distributed to facilities housing female African elephants to determine how social and environmental variables contribute to cyclicity problems. Forty-six facilities returned all three surveys providing information on 90% of the SSP population and 106 elephants (64 cycling, 27 noncycling and 15 undetermined). Logistic analyses found that some physiological and social history variables were related to ovarian acyclicity. Females more likely to be acyclic had a larger body mass index and had resided longer at a facility with the same herdmates. Results suggest that controlling the weight of an elephant might be a first step to helping mitigate estrous cycle problems. Data further show that transferring females among facilities has no major impact on ovarian activity. Last, social status appears to impact cyclicity status; at 19 of 21 facilities that housed both cycling and noncycling elephants, the dominant female was acyclic. Further studies on how social and environmental dynamics affect hormone levels in free-living, cycling elephants are needed to determine whether acyclicity is strictly a captivity-related phenomenon.

A Suite of Microsatellite Markers Optimized for Amplification of DNA From Addax (Addax nasomaculatus) Blood Preserved on FTA Cards

February 2012

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70 Reads

The addax (Addax nasomaculatus) is a critically endangered antelope that is currently maintained in zoos through regional, conservation breeding programs. As for many captive species, incomplete pedigree data currently impedes the ability of addax breeding programs to confidently manage the genetics of captive populations and to select appropriate animals for reintroduction. Molecular markers are often used to improve pedigree resolution, thereby improving the long-term effectiveness of genetic management. When developing a suite of molecular markers, it is important to consider the source of DNA, as the utility of markers may vary across DNA sources. In this study, we optimized a suite of microsatellite markers for use in genotyping captive addax blood samples collected on FTA cards. We amplified 66 microsatellite loci previously described in other Artiodactyls. Sixteen markers amplified a single product in addax, but only 5 of these were found to be polymorphic in a sample of 37 addax sampled from a captive herd at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in the US. The suite of microsatellite markers developed in this study provides a new tool for the genetic management of captive addax, and demonstrates that FTA cards can be a useful means of sample storage, provided appropriate loci are used in downstream analyses. Zoo Biol 30:1-9, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ontogeny of chick behavior: A tool for monitoring the growth and development of lesser adjutant storks

November 2007

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58 Reads

We studied the behavioral development of seven lesser adjutant stork (Leptoptilos javanicus) chicks from hatching to fledging over three breeding seasons at the Bronx Zoo. We developed an ethogram and compared the rate at which behaviors appeared in relation to brood size, sex, and the conditions in which the chicks were raised by their parents. Although sample sizes were small, there seem to be sex-related differences in the rate at which behaviors develop, with females developing more rapidly than males. Larger clutch size may be associated with slower growth rate because the single male developed faster than the two males in 2004. The slowest growth rate, observed in a single male chick in 1999, was most likely owing to nutritional deficiencies and other health complications. More research is needed, but these results can be used to help evaluate the age and health of lesser adjutant stork chicks in captivity and in the wild. Zoo Biol 26:533-538, 2007. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

The influence of captive adolescent male chimpanzees on wounding: Management and welfare implications

November 2009

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181 Reads

Adolescence, the period lasting from the onset of puberty to the emergence of physical and sexual maturity, is a period of social change for many species including chimpanzees. Several reports have implicitly linked the physiological changes that occur during male chimpanzee adolescence to significant disruption in the social group, which in turn may result in serious agonism and wounding. To assess the association between adolescent males and wounding rates, 38 institutions housing 399 chimpanzees among 59 social groups, recorded all wounds incurred by chimpanzees over a 6-month period. The rate of wounding did not differ between groups with or without adolescent males. Adolescent males received the most wounds, but were no more likely to cause wounds than group members of any other sex-age class. Social groups with multiple adult males experienced lower wounding rates than those with a single adult male. Results indicate that (1) adolescent male chimpanzees may receive, but not inflict, more wounds than chimpanzees in other sex-age classes; and (2) management strategies that support natural social groupings may control and limit group agonism.

The relationship between behavior, adrenal activity and environment in zoo-housed Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

May 2012

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749 Reads

Monitoring adrenal activity through noninvasive fecal hormone sampling is rapidly gaining popularity as a tool to assess zoo animal welfare. However, few studies have sought to investigate the interrelationships between behavior, adrenal activity, and environment, and ask whether both behavioral and adrenal monitoring strategies are required to assess welfare sufficiently. We present the findings of a 9-month study of a small group (one male, two females) of Western lowland gorillas, Gorilla gorilla gorilla. First, we examined the effect of environmental variables on gorilla behavior. Second, we examined the effect of environmental variables on the concentration of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGC) and the relationship between behavior and FGC. Environmental variables had similar effects on all three gorillas. Negative vigilance of visitors (NVV; staring, posturing, and charging at visitors) significantly increased in all subjects as environmental noise levels increased, and food-related behavior significantly decreased in all subjects as crowd size increased. Exhibit modifications had a number of positive effects on behavior. Notably, when privacy screens were used, NVV significantly decreased in two subjects. We found no significant effects of environmental variables on FGC. However, we did find significant relationships between behavior and FGC in one female. Specifically, her NVV was significantly higher one day before, and on the same day as, raised FGC. Also, hair plucking significantly increased in the two days following raised FGC. Overall, this study demonstrates how concurrent noninvasive fecal and behavioral monitoring can be used for gorilla welfare assessment.

Influence of Dominance Status on Adrenal Activity and Ovarian Cyclicity Status in Captive African Elephants

November 2009

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19 Reads

The North American African (Loxodonta africana) elephant population is not self-sustaining, in part because of a high rate of abnormal ovarian activity. About 12% of adult females exhibit irregular cycles and 31% do not cycle at all. Our earlier work revealed a relationship between dominance status and ovarian acyclicity, with dominant females being more likely to not cycle normally. One theory is that dominant females may be expending more energy to maintaining peace within the captive herd than for supporting reproduction. The goal of this study was to determine if there was a relationship among dominance status, serum cortisol concentrations, and ovarian acyclicity. We hypothesized that adrenal glucocorticoid activity would be increased in dominant, noncycling elephants as compared with subdominant individuals. Blood samples were collected weekly over a 2-year period in 81 females of known dominance and cyclicity status, and analyzed for cortisol. Based on a path analysis model (Reticular Action Model Or Near Approximation [RAMONA]), noncycling, dominant African elephant females did not have higher mean serum cortisol concentrations, or exhibit more variability (i.e., coefficient of variation, standard deviation) in cortisol secretion. This study suggests that alterations in adrenal activity are not related to dominance status nor contribute directly to acyclicity in captive African elephants.

Assessment of Adrenocortical and Gonadal Hormones in Male Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) Following Capture, Restraint and Anesthesia

November 2013

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86 Reads

The spider monkey (SM) (Ateles geoffroyi) a New World primate species native to Mexican forests, has become endangered in the wild due to environmental perturbations. Little is known about adrenal function and its relationship to reproduction in this species. Our objectives were to assess serum glucocorticoid (GC), mineralocorticoid (MC) and testosterone concentrations in captive SM and evaluate adrenal and testicular responses to potentially stressful animal handling procedures. Seven adult males, housed in a single mixed gender group in an off-exhibit enclosure at the University Park were captured for anesthesia every 2 months over a 1-year period. Blood samples were collected from each male at three time points: (1) ∼5-10 min after ketamine injection in the outdoor enclosure; (2) ∼2 hr later following animal transport to the laboratory and immediately after tiletamine-zolazepam injection; and (3) ∼20-30 min following the second anesthetic injection. Serum samples were frozen and later analyzed for cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone and testosterone via radioimmunoassay. Cortisol was the primary GC detected in SM serum with much higher mean concentrations than for corticosterone. Capture, restraint and anesthesia resulted in significant increases in both cortisol and corticosterone concentrations. Whereas aldosterone concentrations were unchanged by animal handling procedures, testosterone concentrations significantly declined under anesthesia over time. In summary, these results provide data for the main adrenocortical hormones in male SM and characterize their acute adrenal responses to potentially stressful handling and anesthesia procedures. Our findings also suggest an interaction between acute increases in corticosteroids and decreased concentrations of serum testosterone. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Figure 1: Concentrations of fecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) in fresh feces of collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla; n = 5) in response to pharmacological tests (ACTH: 5 IU/kg b.w., i.m.; Dexamethasone: 0.1 mg/kg b.w., i.m.). The means shown represent FCM measurements performed during each experimental period (Pre-ACTH: n = 20; Post-ACTH: n = 20; Pre-Dex: n = 23, and Post-Dex: n = 20); different letters indicate significant differences (P ≤ 0.05). The experimental period spanned 44 days.
Figure 2: Profile of fecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) in fresh feces of a male individual (D) of collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) in response to pharmacological tests (ACTH: 5 IU/kg b.w., i.m.; Dexamethasone: 0.1 mg/kg b.w., i.m.). ACTH challenge was performed on day 10 and dexamethasone on day 37 (pre-injection samples: ●; post-injection samples: ○). No fecal samples were collected between tests (8 days). Notice that the first post-ACTH sample was collected 1 hr after injection, and the last pre-Dex sample was collected before injection.
TABLE 3 . Statistical analyses of fecal cortisol metabolites in collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) in response to food-based environmental enrichment
TABLE 4 . Behavioral response of zoo-housed collared anteaters subjected to food-based environmental enrichment
Assessment of Adrenocortical Activity and Behavior of the Collared Anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) in Response to Food-Based Environmental Enrichment

November 2013

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684 Reads

One of the current standard approaches to the study of animal welfare is measuring hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activity, frequently in association with behavioral assessment. We studied the effects of food-based environmental enrichment on adrenocortical activity and behavior in zoo-housed collared anteaters (Tamandua tetradactyla; n = 5). We successfully validated measurements of fecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) using an 11-oxoetiocholanolone enzyme immunoassay by stimulating (ACTH injection) and suppressing (dexamethasone administration) adrenocortical activity. Three months later, we subjected animals to an ABA-type experiment (three 6-week periods): pre-enrichment (routine diet: A), enrichment (modified diet: B), and post-enrichment (routine diet: A) periods. We assessed adrenocortical activity by collecting individual feces three times a week (total number of samples: 228), and evaluated behavior by performing 3 days of behavioral observations per period (with a total of 3,600 behavioral data points for the individuals studied). Statistical analysis revealed changes in FCM concentrations (µg/g) over the periods (3.04 ± 0.68, 2.98 ± 0.66, and 4.04 ± 0.90, respectively). Additionally, it showed that the number of FCM peaks was highly reduced during enrichment; meanwhile active natural behaviors were significantly increased. We consider that these changes in response to food-based environmental enrichment improved the welfare of individual zoo-housed collared anteaters. This research might contribute to in situ and ex situ studies on the physiology and behavior of this endemic South American species. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Cortisol and ACTH descriptive statistics among three categories (calves excluded)
Evaluation of Adrenocortical Function in Florida Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

January 2010

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376 Reads

The study objectives were to determine the predominant manatee glucocorticoid; validate assays to measure this glucocorticoid and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH); determine diagnostic thresholds to distinguish physiological vs. pathological concentrations; identify differences associated with sex, age class, female reproductive status, capture time, and lactate; and determine the best methods for manatee biologists and clinicians to diagnose stress. Cortisol is the predominant manatee glucocorticoid. IMMULITE 1000 assays for cortisol and ACTH were validated. Precision yielded intra- and inter-assay coefficients of variation for serum cortisol: ≤23.5 and ≤16.7%; and ACTH: ≤6.9 and ≤8.5%. Accuracy resulted in a mean adjusted R(2)≥0.87 for serum cortisol and ≥0.96 for ACTH. Assay analytical sensitivities for cortisol (0.1 µg/dl) and ACTH (10.0 pg/ml) were verified. Methods were highly correlated with another IMMULITE 1000 for serum cortisol (r=0.97) and ACTH (r=0.98). There was no significant variation in cortisol or ACTH with sex or age class and no correlation with female progesterone concentrations. Cortisol concentrations were highest in unhealthy manatees, chronically stressed by disease or injury. ACTH was greatest in healthy free-ranging or short-term rehabilitating individuals, peracutely stressed by capture and handling. Cortisol concentrations ≥1.0 µg/dl were diagnostic of chronic stress; ACTH concentrations ≥87.5 pg/ml were diagnostic of peracute stress. In healthy long-term captive manatees, cortisol (0.4±0.2 µg/dl) and ACTH (47.7±15.9 pg/ml) concentrations were lower than healthy free-ranging, short-term rehabilitated or unhealthy manatees. Capture time was not significantly correlated with cortisol; ACTH correlation was borderline significant. Cortisol and ACTH were positively correlated with lactate.

TABLE 1 . Jaguar Individual Data
TABLE 3 . Fecal androgen metabolite (FCM) concentrations (ng/g dry feces) in Male (] 1-3) Jaguars During an ACTH Challenge
Noninvasive monitoring of adrenocortical function in captive jaguars (Panthera onca)

July 2012

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312 Reads

Jaguars are threatened with extinction throughout their range. A sustainable captive population can serve as a hedge against extinction, but only if they are healthy and reproduce. Understanding how jaguars respond to stressors may help improve the captive environment and enhance their wellbeing. Thus, our objectives were to: (1) conduct an adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) challenge to validate a cortisol radioimmunoassay (RIA) for noninvasive monitoring of adrenocortical function in jaguars; (2) investigate the relationship between fecal corticoid (FCM) and androgen metabolite (FAM) concentrations in males during the ACTH challenge; and (3) establish a range of physiological concentrations of FCMs for the proposed protocol. Seven jaguars (3 M, 4 F) received 500 IU/animal of ACTH. Pre- and post-ACTH fecal samples were assayed for corticoid (M and F) and androgen metabolites (M) by RIA. Concentrations of FCMs increased (P80.01) after ACTH injection (pre-ACTH: 0.90 ± 0.12 µg/g dry feces; post-ACTH: 2.55 ± 0.25 µg/g). Considering pre- and post-ACTH samples, FCM concentrations were higher (P80.01) in males (2.15 ± 0.20 µg/g) than in females (1.30 ± 0.20 µg/g), but the magnitude of the response to ACTH was comparable (P>0.05) between genders. After ACTH injection, FAMs increased in two (of 3) males; in one male, FCMs and FAMs were positively correlated (0.60; P80.01). Excretion of FCMs was assessed in 16 jaguars (7 M, 9 F) and found to be highly variable (range, 80.11-1.56 µg/g). In conclusion, this study presents a cortisol RIA for monitoring adrenocortical function in jaguars noninvasively.

Apparent Total Tract Macronutrient and Energy Digestibility of 1-to-3-Day-Old Whole Chicks, Adult Ground Chicken, and Extruded and Canned Chicken-Based Diets in African Wildcats (Felis Silvestris Lybica)

September 2013

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58 Reads

Our objectives were to evaluate the composition of whole 1- to- 3-day-old chicks (Whole), ground adult chicken (Ground), chicken-based canned diet (Canned), and chicken-based extruded diet (Extruded); and evaluate apparent total tract energy and macronutrient digestibility of these diets by four captive African wildcats (Felis silvestrus lybica) utilizing a Latin Square design. We analyzed diets for macronutrient and mineral (Ca, P, K, Na, Mg, Fe, Cu, Mn, Zn, and S) composition, and screened for potentially pathogenic bacteria. Canned and Extruded diets tested negative for all microbes and met macronutrient and mineral recommendations for domestic cat foods [AAFCO (2012). Official publication. Oxford, IN: AAFCO]. Whole prey diets (Ground and Whole) met macronutrient requirements for domestic cats; however, they were below recommendations in some minerals [Mn, Cu, K, and Na; AAFCO (2012). Official publication. Oxford, IN: AAFCO], and tested positive for potentially pathogenic microorganisms (Salmonella, E. coli spp.). For all diets, apparent total tract organic matter digestibility was high (>85%). Organic matter digestibility was higher (P ≤ 0.05) for cats fed Ground (94%) compared to those fed Canned, Extruded, or Whole (87, 86, and 85%, respectively). Apparent total tract crude protein digestibility was lower than expected (i.e., <85%) for cats fed Extruded (81%) and fat digestibility was lower than expected (i.e., <90%) for cats fed Whole (82%). Cats fed whole prey items tested herein adequately maintained BW short-term; however, long-term studies are needed. These data indicate that there may be a need to monitor whole prey composition and when necessary, adjust the diet to account for potential deficiencies. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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