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Zoo biology [journal]
- Assessment of adrenocortical activity and behavior of the collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) in response to food-based environmental enrichment. [Journal Article]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Nov; 32(6):632-40.
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. 32:632-640, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Investigating the relationship between feed and helminthic burden of captive birds of prey in Hong Kong. [Journal Article]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Nov; 32(6):652-4.
The life cycle of most parasitic helminthes is related to their hosts feeding habits. Thus we need to investigate the impact of diet on the host's helminthic parasite burden. Not many studies in captive raptors have been conducted and published regarding parasitic infections. The aim of this study is to evaluate the helminthic burden of raptors kept in captivity and establish a relationship with the feed provided. A total of N = 51 different species of captive birds of prey were fed different diets consisting in different combinations of day old chicks, chicken breast, whole chicken carcass and mice. Their feces were sampled and the parasite burden was determined. A negative binomial model was successfully fitted to the data and the feeds "mice" (P < 0.001) and "whole chicken carcass" (P < 0.001) significantly contributed to an increase in the observed burden. Significant differences were also found between species (P < 0.001). Raptors fed adult animal carcasses and offal may explain the increase in the observed burden as these feeds have a larger probability of being contaminated by a larger variety of helminthic fauna. Zoo Biol. 32:652-654, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Assessment of adrenocortical and gonadal hormones in male spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) following capture, restraint and anesthesia. [Journal Article]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Nov; 32(6):641-7.
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. 32:641-647, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Carotenoid supplementation enhances reproductive success in captive strawberry poison frogs (Oophaga pumilio). [Journal Article]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Nov; 32(6):655-8.
Amphibians are currently experiencing the most severe declines in biodiversity of any vertebrate, and their requirements for successful reproduction are poorly understood. Here, we show that supplementing the diet of prey items (fruit flies) with carotenoids has strong positive effects on the reproduction of captive strawberry poison frogs (Oophaga pumilio), substantially increasing the number of metamorphs produced by pairs. This improved reproduction most likely arose via increases in the quality of both the fertilized eggs from which tadpoles develop and trophic eggs that are fed to tadpoles by mothers. Frogs in this colony had previously been diagnosed with a Vitamin A deficiency, and this supplementation may have resolved this issue. These results support growing evidence of the importance of carotenoids in vertebrate reproduction and highlight the nuanced ways in which nutrition constrains captive populations. Zoo Biol. 32:655-658, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Wild-laid versus captive-laid eggs in the black-bellied sandgrouse: Is there any effect on chick productivity? [Journal Article]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Nov; 32(6):592-9.
Because survival in captivity is a significant determinant of birds available for release and reinforcement of wild populations, we aimed to identify sources of variation in mortality to assess potential impacts of management on chick productivity. We analyzed characteristics of Black-bellied Sandgrouse eggs collected from the wild and produced by captive pairs. Wild laid-eggs and pulled captive-laid eggs were incubated artificially and all chicks were hand-reared until seven weeks of age. Wild-laid eggs were significantly bigger, heavier, and denser than captive-laid eggs which showed a higher variability in size. Fertility, embryo mortality, and fertile egg hatchability were similar for wild-laid and captive-laid eggs (67.92% vs. 68%; 15.62% vs. 15.7%, and 80.55% vs. 84.44%, respectively). There were significant positive relationships between egg weigh/volume and chick hatch weight. Mortality of chicks hatched from wild-laid eggs was much lower than that of chicks from captive-laid eggs (19.44% vs. 60.5%) during the first week after hatching, but decreased and being nil from the third week. Heavier hatchlings from captive-laid eggs exhibited higher survival rates which is not the case of hatchlings from wild-laid eggs. These latter hatchlings had higher survival rates increasing with the age of eggs in relation with the period of natural incubation. The recommended age at which wild-laid eggs could be collected is at least 13 days for full chick survivability. We concluded that in our experimental captive breeding program of the Black-bellied Sandgrouse, productivity of viable hatchlings was much better from wild-laid eggs and as later as these were collected. Zoo Biol. 32:592-599, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- The use of visual barriers to reduce aggression among a group of marabou storks (Leptoptilos crumeniferus). [Journal Article]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Nov; 32(6):648-51.
Marabou storks are one of the most commonly held birds in zoos, but the captive population faces challenges related to high mortality. One of the most common causes of death among captive marabou storks is conspecific aggression. There is a pressing need to better understand how to manage this aggression. One method that has been used successfully to reduce aggression in other species is the addition of visual barriers to the enclosure, though there are no published studies on their effect on storks. We studied the behavioral changes in a group of 2.2 marabou storks following the addition of two shade cloth barriers to their enclosure; we documented all occurrences of aggressive behavior, as well as time spent proximate to the barriers (or the space between barrier posts, when the shade cloth was removed) and time spent using the barriers to block the view of other storks. The presence of the shade cloth did not change the amount of time storks spent proximate to the barriers, nor did they spend more than 2% of their time using the barriers to block other storks, but the presence of the barriers significantly reduced displacement activity. Barriers may afford captive marabou storks an important means of escaping conflict, as flight-restriction and housing in an enclosure can limit their opportunities to give a signal of retreat or submission. Zoo Biol. 32:648-651, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Whisper-like behavior in a non-human primate. [Journal Article]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Nov; 32(6):626-31.
In humans, whispering has evolved as a counteractive strategy against eavesdropping. Some evidence for whisper-like behavior exists in a few other species, but has not been reported in non-human primates. We discovered the first evidence of whisper-like behavior in a non-human primate, the cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus), in the course of investigating their use of human-directed mobbing calls. We exposed a family of captive cotton-top tamarins to a supervisor who previously elicited a strong mobbing response. Simultaneous audio-video recordings documented the animals' behavioral and vocal responses in the supervisor's presence and absence. Rather than exhibiting a mobbing response and producing loud human-directed mobbing calls, the tamarins exhibited other anti-predator behaviors and produced low amplitude vocalizations that initially eluded our detection. A post-hoc analysis of the data was conducted to test a new hypothesis-the tamarins were reducing the amplitude of their vocalizations in the context of exposure to a potential threat. Consistent with whisper-like behavior, the amplitude of the tamarins' vocalizations was significantly reduced only in the presence of the supervisor. Due to its subtle properties, this phenomenon may have eluded detection in this species. Increasing evidence of whisper-like behavior in non-human species suggests that such low amplitude signaling may represent a convergence in a communication strategy amongst highly social and cooperative species. Zoo Biol. 32:626-631, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- The first year of behavioral development and maternal care of beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) calves in human care. [Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Sep-Oct; 32(5):565-70.
The current study provides additional information for the behavioral development and maternal care of belugas or white whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in the care of humans. The behaviors and mother-calf interactions of two female beluga calves were recorded from birth to 12 months as part of a longitudinal study of beluga behavioral development. As expected, the primary calf activity for both calves involved swimming with their mothers. The calves initiated the majority of the separations from and reunions with their mothers and exhibited early bouts of independence. Both mothers bonded with their calves and displayed similar maternal care behaviors but exhibited different behavioral patterns. Despite differences in social groupings, housing, and physical health, the two female belugas followed the behavioral development of beluga calves observed previously.
- Reintroduction medicine: Whooping cranes in Wisconsin. [Journal Article]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Nov; 32(6):600-7.
This paper presents veterinary management strategies and diagnostic findings in the reintroduction of the endangered whooping crane (Grus americana). Between 2005 and 2010, 63 (27 male, 36 female) hatchling whooping cranes were assigned to a reintroduction project involving autumn release of costume-reared chicks in Wisconsin. Veterinary care included preventive measures and comprehensive pre-release evaluations to improve fitness and reduce translocation of potential disease agents to native habitats. A total of 44 clinically normal birds were released (70% of assigned individuals). Cases of morbidity were classified according to primary body system affected. Musculoskeletal disorders were described in 57 birds (90%); five birds were removed from the project prior to release (8%), all for abnormalities that prevented normal function. Fourteen birds died or were euthanized prior to release (22%); pre-release mortality was attributed to developmental abnormality, predation, trauma or infectious disease. Chronic respiratory aspergillosis, diagnosed in seven birds (11%), was the most common infectious disease of concern. Predation and trauma were primary causes of post-release mortality; no evidence of infectious disease of captive origin was detected in the study population by the end of 2010. The assessment of data accumulated by this project helped to outline successful health management strategies, as well as identify and mitigate ongoing risks to captive whooping cranes that impede reintroduction efforts and achieving management goals for species recovery. Zoo Biol. 32:600-607, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- Quantifying the impact of storage procedures for faecal bacteriotherapy in the critically endangered New Zealand Parrot, the Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus). [Journal Article]
- Zoo Biol 2013 Nov; 32(6):620-5.
The endemic New Zealand kakapo is classified as 'critically endangered' and, in an effort to prevent extinction and restore the kakapo population, intensive handling of rare kakapo chicks is often utilised to reduce mortality and improve health outcomes among juveniles. Due to concerns that hand-reared chicks may not receive a full bacterial complement in their gut in the absence of regurgitated food from their mother, conservation workers feed a suspension of frozen adult faeces to captive chicks. However, the efficacy of this practice is unknown, with no information about the viability of these bacteria, or whether certain bacterial taxa are selected for or against as a consequence of freezing. In this study we experimentally determined the effects of freezing and reanimation on bacterial cell viability and diversity, using a faecal sample obtained from a healthy adult kakapo. Freezing reduced the number of viable bacterial cells (estimated by colony-forming units, CFU) by 99.86%, although addition of a cryoprotectant prior to freezing resulted in recovery of bacterial cells equivalent to that of non-frozen controls. Bacterial taxonomic diversity was reduced by freezing, irrespective of the presence of a cryoprotectant. While this study did not address the efficacy of faecal supplementation per se, the obtained data do suggest that faecal bacteriotherapy using frozen faeces (with a cryoprotectant) from healthy adult birds warrants further consideration as a conservation strategy for intensively managed species. Zoo Biol. 32:620-625, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.