- Successful treatment of infertility in a female Sumatran orangutan Pongo abelii. [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017; 36(2):132-135
- In 2011, a female Sumatran orangutan housed at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust became infertile following a massive antepartum hemorrhage in labor and the delivery of a stillborn infant. The plac...
In 2011, a female Sumatran orangutan housed at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust became infertile following a massive antepartum hemorrhage in labor and the delivery of a stillborn infant. The placenta was infected with Pantoea sp. Hysterosalpingography (HSG) revealed blocked fallopian tubes, and pressurized fallopian tube perfusion was used to reverse the tubal occlusion. She subsequently conceived and following an intensive training program, we were able to measure umbilical artery waveform analysis for fetal well-being and placental localization to exclude placenta previa, which could complicate pregnancy and lead to catastrophic hemorrhage. The female went on to deliver a healthy offspring. We suggest that these techniques should be considered for other infertile females in the global captive population.
- Investigation of techniques to measure cortisol and testosterone concentrations in coyote hair. [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017 Mar 10
- Long-term noninvasive sampling for endangered or elusive species is particularly difficult due to the challenge of collecting fecal samples before hormone metabolite desiccation, as well as the diffi...
Long-term noninvasive sampling for endangered or elusive species is particularly difficult due to the challenge of collecting fecal samples before hormone metabolite desiccation, as well as the difficulty in collecting a large enough sample size from all individuals. Hair samples may provide an environmentally stable alternative that provides a long-term assessment of stress and reproductive hormone profiles for captive, zoo, and wild mammals. Here, we extracted and analyzed both cortisol and testosterone in coyote (Canis latrans) hair for the first time. We collected samples from 5-week old coyote pups (six female, six male) housed at the USDA-NWRC Predator Research Facility in Millville, UT. Each individual pup was shaved in six different locations to assess variation in concentrations by body region. We found that pup hair cortisol (F5,57.1 = 0.47, p = 0.80) and testosterone concentrations (F5,60 = 1.03, p = 0.41) did not differ as a function of body region. Male pups generally had higher cortisol concentrations than females (males = 17.71 ± 0.85 ng/g, females = 15.48 ± 0.24 ng/g; F1,57.0 = 5.06, p = 0.028). Comparatively, we did not find any differences between male and female testosterone concentrations (males = 2.86 ± 0.17 ng/g, females = 3.12 ± 0.21 ng/g; F1,60 = 1.42, p = 0.24). These techniques represent an attractive method in describing long-term stress and reproductive profiles of captive, zoo-housed, and wild mammal populations.
- Integrating trans-abdominal ultrasonography with fecal steroid metabolite monitoring to accurately diagnose pregnancy and predict the timing of parturition in the red panda (Ailurus fulgens styani). [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017 Feb 23
- Red pandas (Ailurus fulgens styani) exhibit a variable gestation length and may experience a pseudopregnancy indistinguishable from true pregnancy; therefore, it is not possible to deduce an individu...
Red pandas (Ailurus fulgens styani) exhibit a variable gestation length and may experience a pseudopregnancy indistinguishable from true pregnancy; therefore, it is not possible to deduce an individual's true pregnancy status and parturition date based on breeding dates or fecal progesterone excretion patterns alone. The goal of this study was to evaluate the use of transabdominal ultrasonography for pregnancy diagnosis in red pandas. Two to three females were monitored over 4 consecutive years, generating a total of seven profiles (four pregnancies, two pseudopregnancies, and one lost pregnancy). Fecal samples were collected and assayed for progesterone (P4) and estrogen conjugate (EC) to characterize patterns associated with breeding activity and parturition events. Animals were trained for voluntary transabdominal ultrasound and examinations were performed weekly. Breeding behaviors and fecal EC data suggest that the estrus cycle of this species is 11-12 days in length. Fecal steroid metabolite analyses also revealed that neither P4 nor EC concentrations were suitable indicators of pregnancy in this species; however, a secondary increase in P4 occurred 69-71 days prior to parturition in all pregnant females, presumably coinciding with embryo implantation. Using ultrasonography, embryos were detected as early as 62 days post-breeding/50 days pre-partum and serial measurements of uterine lumen diameter were documented throughout four pregnancies. Advances in reproductive diagnostics, such as the implementation of ultrasonography, may facilitate improved husbandry of pregnant females and allow for the accurate prediction of parturition.
- Environmental changes and anthropogenic factors modulate social play in captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017; 36(2):99-111
- Social play varies among species and individuals and changes in frequency and duration during ontogeny. This type of play is modulated by environmental changes (e.g., resource availability). In capti...
Social play varies among species and individuals and changes in frequency and duration during ontogeny. This type of play is modulated by environmental changes (e.g., resource availability). In captivity, cetaceans and their environment are managed by humans, and training sessions and/or public presentations punctuate the day as well as other frequent or occasional events. There is a lack of research on the effects of environmental events that occur in captivity and might affect dolphins' behavior. We studied the context in which nine bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) played socially and the events that could potentially impact this social interaction. The dolphins' social play behavior was significantly more frequent and lasted longer in the morning than in the afternoon and was present before and after interactions with their trainers with a non-significant tendency to be more frequent before and after a training session than a public presentation. In an experimental paradigm using familiar environmental enrichment, our results demonstrated that environmental enrichment tended to increase social play duration whereas temporary noisy construction work around the pool and display of agonistic behaviors by members of the group significantly decreased it. These results contribute to better understand the social play distribution in captive bottlenose dolphins and the impact of different events within their daily lives. Since play decreases or disappears when animals are facing unfavorable conditions, the evaluation of social play may relate to the animals' current well-being. We suggest that social play has potential to become an indicator of bottlenose dolphins' current welfare state.
- Effects of visitor numbers on captive European red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) and impacts on visitor experience. [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017; 36(2):112-119
- Visitors to zoological collections can have substantial effects on captive animals that vary according to species, enclosure design, visitor proximity, and husbandry methods. One particularly intense...
Visitors to zoological collections can have substantial effects on captive animals that vary according to species, enclosure design, visitor proximity, and husbandry methods. One particularly intense form of visitor interaction occurs in immersive exhibits such as walk-through enclosures. Such enclosures are increasingly common but effects on animal behavior are currently understudied. Here, the behavior of captive European red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) is studied in relation to visitor numbers in a walk-through enclosure. We also quantify the correlation between squirrel encounters and visitor experience. Interaction with humans increased significantly as the number of visitors inside the enclosure increased. The number of children present significantly increased locomotion and decreased eating, possibly due to disturbance and squirrels moving away from busy areas. By contrast, the number of adults significantly increased eating and decreased inactivity due to squirrels approaching visitors. The positive reinforcement training used by the keepers (offering food rewards to the squirrels for coming to them to allow routine medical checks) meant that squirrels associated adults with food opportunities. Squirrel encounter rate (number of squirrels seen by each group of visitors) was significantly affected by the number of adults and visitor duration (positive relationships) and noise as perceived by visitors (negative relationship). Encounter rate was positively correlated with overall visitor experience. Our results indicate that visitors affect behavior but this effect is influenced by husbandry methods. It is vital that visitors, especially children, minimize noise, and move slowly in the enclosure, both for the sake of the animals and their own experience.
- A multi-zoo investigation of nutrient provision for captive red-crested turacos. [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017; 36(2):152-160
- Turacos (Musophagidae) are common zoo birds; the 14 species of Tauraco being most often exhibited. Turacos possess unique non-structural, copper-based feather pigments, and a specialized dietary stra...
Turacos (Musophagidae) are common zoo birds; the 14 species of Tauraco being most often exhibited. Turacos possess unique non-structural, copper-based feather pigments, and a specialized dietary strategy. Tauraco inhabit tropical woodlands, foraging for predominantly folivorous and/or frugivorous food items. Using a study population of 16 red-crested turacos (T. erythrolophus) at seven zoos in the United Kingdom, the nutrient composition of diets from diet sheets was calculated, using Zootrition v.2.6, Saint Louis Zoo, USA for analyses of important nutrients within each diet, and compared against an example of currently available literature. For all nutrients analyzed, significant differences were noted between amounts presented in each zoo's diet (as fed). Turacos are presented with a wide range of ingredients in diets fed, and all zoos use domestic fruits to a large extent in captive diets. Similarities exist between zoos when comparing amounts of as-fed fiber. Analysis of the calcium to phosphorous ratio for these diets showed there to be no significant difference from the published ratio available. While this is a small-scale study on only a limited number of zoos, it provides useful information on current feeding practice for a commonly-housed species of bird and highlights potential areas of deviation away from standard practice, as well as identifying ways of reducing wastage of food. Data on wild foraging behavior and food selection, or collaboration with tauraco keepers from institutions in the tropics, is recommended as a way of improving feeding regimes and updating feeding practice for this and other Tauraco species.
- Demographics of polycystic kidney disease and captive population viability in pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis). [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017; 36(2):136-151
- Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) was previously diagnosed at necropsy in several pygmy hippopotami (Choeropsis liberiensis) from the Smithsonian National Zoo and Zoo Basel, suggesting a threat to the ...
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) was previously diagnosed at necropsy in several pygmy hippopotami (Choeropsis liberiensis) from the Smithsonian National Zoo and Zoo Basel, suggesting a threat to the long-term viability of the captive population. We determined the incidence and demographics of PKD in the captive population historically; we tested if the condition is linked to pedigree; we investigated mode of inheritance; we examined effects of PKD on longevity; we conducted survival analysis; and we examined long-term population viability. Thirty-seven percent of 149 necropsied adult pygmy hippos were affected by PKD, and it was more common in females, controlling for the overall female-biased sex-ratio. Prevalence increased significantly with age, but most hippos were beyond their reproductive prime before developing clinical signs; thus fecundity was likely unaffected. PKD was linked to pedigree and may exhibit X-linked dominance, but further research is needed to definitively establish the mode of inheritance. PKD did not affect longevity, overall or within any age class. There was no significant correlation between inbreeding coefficient (F) and PKD, and the prevalence in wild-caught and captive-born animals was similar. Longevity for both captive-born and inbred hippos (F > 0) was significantly shorter than longevity for their wild-caught and non-inbred counterparts. Demographic projections indicated the extant population will likely experience a slow increase over time, provided there are no space constraints. We conclude that although PKD is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in pygmy hippos, the condition is not a primary concern for overall viability of the captive population.
- Olfactory enrichment and scent cue associative learning in captive birds of prey. [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017; 36(2):120-126
- As the use of enrichment in zoos has become a standardized husbandry practice, the continued improvement of enrichment programs should be concomitant with empirical validation of those practices. The...
As the use of enrichment in zoos has become a standardized husbandry practice, the continued improvement of enrichment programs should be concomitant with empirical validation of those practices. The role of scent as enrichment remains an unexplored avenue for many bird species. We conducted a multi-phase experiment to introduce wrapped food packages and scent cuing to indicate food presence into the exhibits of several birds of prey species at the Bronx Zoo, New York City, to assess if scent can function as enrichment in these species. Our research found support for these birds associating a novel scent cue from a package with the presence of food inside. When tested with sham (empty) packages, these individuals more often and more extensively handled scented versus unscented packages. Overall, these results indicate the ability of some our small sample of individuals to learn olfactory cues and provide support for trials to include olfactory enrichment as a potential part of the daily routine for some birds of prey in zoo settings.
- Testing the effect of dietary carotenoids on larval survival, growth and development in the critically endangered southern corroboree frog. [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017; 36(2):161-169
- The success of captive breeding programs (CBPs) for threatened species is often limited due to a lack of knowledge of the nutritional conditions required for optimal growth and survival. Carotenoids ...
The success of captive breeding programs (CBPs) for threatened species is often limited due to a lack of knowledge of the nutritional conditions required for optimal growth and survival. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants known to accelerate vertebrate growth and reduce mortality. However, the effect of carotenoids on amphibian life-history traits remains poorly understood. The aim of our study was to use a manipulative laboratory experiment to test the effect of dietary-carotenoid supplementation during the larval life stage on the survival, growth and development of the critically endangered southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree). Larvae were fed either a carotenoid supplemented diet or an unsupplemented diet and the survival, growth and development of individuals was monitored and compared. There was no significant effect of dietary treatment on larval survival, growth rate, time taken to reach metamorphosis, or body size at metamorphosis. Our findings provide no evidence that carotenoid supplementation during the larval life stage improves the growth and development of southern corroboree frogs. However, because the carotenoid dose used in our study did not have any detrimental effects on P. corroboree larvae, but has previously been shown to improve adult coloration, immunity, and exercise performance, carotenoid supplementation should be considered when evaluating the nutritional requirements of P. corroboree in captivity. Carotenoid supplementation studies are now required for a diversity of anuran species to determine the effects of carotenoids on amphibian survival, growth and development. Understanding the effects of dietary carotenoids on different life-history traits may assist with amphibian captive breeding and conservation.
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- Retrospective study of mortality in Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) in the European breeding population between 2000 and 2014. [Journal Article]
- ZBZoo Biol 2017; 36(1):66-73
- Although the European population of Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) has been managed under the European Endangered Species Program (EEP) since 1990, little is known about the health status of th...
Although the European population of Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) has been managed under the European Endangered Species Program (EEP) since 1990, little is known about the health status of the population. This study was designed to characterize mortality for this population through examination of the studbook and other records on 392 Asiatic lions living in the EEP between 2000 and 2014. A total of 270 animals died during the period with 80% of them being under 1 year old. The mortality rate for under 1 year olds was 54%, while the odds of survival of cubs within a litter increased if the dam had had litters previously. Survival to reproductive age was 44%. Post-mortem reports were requested and the cause of death was obtained for 133 animals. Trauma inflicted by a conspecific and lack of care were common causes of death (26% and 22%, respectively) and were also responsible for most of the neonatal mortalities. Congenital defects were responsible for 9% of deaths, although the true prevalence is likely underestimated. A common necropsy protocol for all Asiatic lion collections is needed to facilitate future studies. Zoo Biol. 36:66-73, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.