• An experimental investigation of chemical communication in the polar bear

      Owen, Megan A.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Slocomb, C.; Amstrup, Steven C.; Durner, G. M.; Simac, Kristin S.; Pessier, Allan P. (2015)
      The polar bear (Ursus maritimus), with its wide-ranging movements, solitary existence and seasonal reproduction, is expected to favor chemosignaling over other communication modalities….These results suggest that pedal scent, regardless of origin, conveys information to conspecifics that may facilitate social and reproductive behavior, and that chemical communication in this species has been adaptively shaped by environmental constraints of its habitat. However, continuously distributed scent signals necessary for breeding behavior may prove less effective if current and future environmental conditions cause disruption of scent trails due to increased fracturing of sea ice.
    • Behavior coding and ethogram of Guizhou snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi)

      Cui, Duoying; Niu, K.; Tan, Chia L.; Yang, M.; Zhang, Y.; Zhang, J.; Yang, Y. (2014)
      We observed the behavior processes and habitats of free-ranging Guizhou snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus brelichi) in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) and captive Guizhousnub-nosed monkeys in Wildlife Rescue Center in FNNR and Beijing Zoo from October 2009 to April 2014…. We found that there were some behavioral differences among Guizhou snub-nosed monkey, Sichuan snub-nosed monkey and Yunnan snub-nosed monkey in individual and social behaviors, and these might be related to the different habitats.
    • Chelonian perivitelline membrane-bound sperm detection: A new breeding management tool

      Croyle, Kaitlin E.; Gibbons, Paul; Light, Christine; Goode, Eric; Durrant, Barbara S.; Jensen, Thomas (2016)
      Perivitelline membrane (PVM)-bound sperm detection has recently been incorporated into avian breeding programs to assess egg fertility, confirm successful copulation, and to evaluate male reproductive status and pair compatibility. Due to the similarities between avian and chelonian egg structure and development, and because fertility determination in chelonian eggs lacking embryonic growth is equally challenging, PVM-bound sperm detection may also be a promising tool for the reproductive management of turtles and tortoises....
    • Development of a case definition for clinical feline herpesvirus infection in cheetahs (acinonyx jubatus) housed in zoos

      Witte, Carmel L.; Lamberski, Nadine; Rideout, Bruce; Fields, Victoria; Teare, Cyd Shields; Barrie, Michael; Haefele, Holly; Junge, Randall; Murray, Suzan; Hungerford, Laura L. (2013)
      The identification of feline herpesvirus (FHV) infected cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and characterization of shedding episodes is difficult due to nonspecific clinical signs and limitations of diagnostic tests. The goals of this study were to develop a case definition for clinical FHV and describe the distribution of signs. Medical records from six different zoologic institutions were reviewed to identify cheetahs with diagnostic test results confirming FHV….
    • Diet Versus Phylogeny: a Comparison of Gut Microbiota in Captive Colobine Monkey Species

      Hale, Vanessa L; Tan, Chia L.; Niu, Kefeng; Yang, Yeqin; Knight, Rob; Zhang, Qikun; Cui, Duoying; Amato, Katherine R (2018)
      Both diet and host phylogeny shape the gut microbial community, and separating out the effects of these variables can be challenging. In this study, high-throughput sequencing was used to evaluate the impact of diet and phylogeny on the gut microbiota of nine colobine monkey species (N = 64 individuals)....
    • Dolphin shows and interaction programs: Benefits for conservation education?

      Miller, Lance J.; Zeigler-Hill, V.; Mellen, J.; Koeppel, J.; Greer, T.; Kuczaj, S. (2013)
      Dolphin shows and dolphin interaction programs are two types of education programs within zoological institutions used to educate visitors about dolphins and the marine environment. The current study examined the short‐ and long‐term effects of these programs on visitors' conservation‐related knowledge, attitude, and behavior....
    • Effect of preservation method on spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) fecal microbiota over 8 weeks

      Hale, Vanessa L.; Tan, Chia L.; Knight, Rob; Amato, Katherine R. (2015)
      …Gut microbes play an important role in human and animal health, and gut microbiome analysis holds great potential for evaluating health in wildlife, as microbiota can be assessed from non-invasively collected fecal samples. However, many common fecal preservation protocols (e.g. freezing at ?80°C) are not suitable for field conditions, or have not been tested for long-term (greater than 2weeks) storage. In this study, we collected fresh fecal samples from captive spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) at the Columbian Park Zoo (Lafayette, IN, USA)….
    • Efficacy of treatment and long-term follow-up of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis PCR-positive anurans following itraconazole bath treatment

      Georoff, Timothy A.; Moore, Robert P.; Rodriguez, Carlos; Pessier, Allan P.; Newton, Alisa L.; McAloose, Denise; Calle, Paul P. (2013)
      All anuran specimens in the Wildlife Conservation Society's collections testing positive for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) were treated with itraconazole and then studied after treatment to assess the long-term effects of itraconazole and the drug's effectiveness in eliminating Bd carriers. Twenty-four individuals and eight colonies of 11 different species (75 total specimens) tested positive for Bd via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on multicollection survey. All positive individuals and colonies were treated with a 0.01% itraconazole bath solution and retested for Bd via one of two PCR methodologies within 14 days of treatment completion, and all were negative for Bd. A total of 64 animals received secondary follow-up PCR testing at the time of death, 6–8 mo, or 12–15 mo post-treatment. Fourteen animals (14/64, 21.9%) were PCR positive for Bd on second follow-up. The highest percentage positive at second recheck were green-and-black poison dart frogs (Dendrobates auratus; 5/5 specimens, 100%), followed by red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas; 4/11, 36.4%), grey tree frogs (Hyla versicolor; 1/3, 33.3%), and green tree frogs (Hyla cinera; 3/11, 27.3%). Re-testing by PCR performed on 26/28 individuals that died during the study indicated 11/26 (42.3%) were positive (all via DNA extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded skin sections). However, there was no histologic evidence of chytridiomycosis in any of 27/28 individuals. The small number of deceased animals and effects of postmortem autolysis limited the ability to determine statistical trends in the pathology data, but none of the necropsied specimens showed evidence of itraconazole toxicity. Problems with itraconazole may be species dependent, and this report expands the list of species that can tolerate treatment. Although itraconazole is effective for clearance of most individuals infected with Bd, results of the study suggest that repeat itraconazole treatment and follow-up diagnostics may be required to ensure that subclinical infections are eliminated in amphibian collections.
    • Epidemiology of clinical feline herpesvirus infection in zoo-housed cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)

      Witte, Carmel L.; Lamberski, Nadine; Rideout, Bruce; Vaida, Florin; Citino, Scott B.; Barrie, Michael T.; Haefele, Holly J.; Junge, Randall E.; Murray, Suzan; Hungerford, Laura L. (2017)
      OBJECTIVE To determine the incidence of and risk factors for clinical feline herpesvirus (FHV) infection in zoo-housed cheetahs and determine whether dam infection was associated with offspring infection. DESIGN Retrospective cohort study....
    • Examination of enrichment using space and food for African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

      Hacker, CE; Miller, Lance J.; Schulte, BA (2018)
      Concern for elephant welfare in zoological facilities has prompted a number of exhibit and management modifications, including those involving enrichment. Knowledge of how these changes impact indicators of welfare, such as elephant movement and behaviour, is crucial for continued improvement of elephant husbandry and care....
    • Frequency of behavior witnessed and conformity in an everyday social context

      Claidière, Nicolas; Bowler, Mark; Brookes, Sarah; Brown, Rebecca; Whiten, Andrew (2014)
      Conformity is thought to be an important force in human evolution because it has the potential to stabilize cultural homogeneity within groups and cultural diversity between groups. However, the effects of such conformity on cultural and biological evolution will depend much on the particular way in which individuals are influenced by the frequency of alternative behavioral options they witness. In a previous study we found that in a natural situation people displayed a tendency to be ‘linear-conformist’. When visitors to a Zoo exhibit were invited to write or draw answers to questions on cards to win a small prize and we manipulated the proportion of text versus drawings on display, we found a strong and significant effect of the proportion of text displayed on the proportion of text in the answers, a conformist effect that was largely linear with a small non-linear component. However, although this overall effect is important to understand cultural evolution, it might mask a greater diversity of behavioral responses shaped by variables such as age, sex, social environment and attention of the participants. Accordingly we performed a further study explicitly to analyze the effects of these variables, together with the quality of the information participants' responses made available to further visitors. Results again showed a largely linear conformity effect that varied little with the variables analyzed.
    • Genome-wide SNP loci reveal novel insights into koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) population variability across its range

      Kjeldsen, Shannon R.; Zenger, Kyall R.; Leigh, Kellie; Ellis, William A.; Tobey, Jennifer R.; Phalen, David; Melzer, Alistair; FitzGibbon, Sean; Raadsma, Herman W. (2016)
      The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is an iconic Australian species that is currently undergoing a number of threatening processes, including disease and habitat loss. A thorough understanding of population genetic structuring and genomic variability of this species is essential to effectively manage populations across the species range. Using a reduced representation genome sequencing method known as double digest restriction-associated sequencing, this study has provided the first genome-wide SNP marker panel in the koala. In this study, 33,019 loci were identified in the koala and a filtered panel of 3060 high-utility SNP markers, including 95 sex-linked markers, were used to provide key insights into population variability and genomic variation in 171 koalas from eight populations across their geographic range. Broad-scale genetic differentiation between geographically separated populations (including sub-species) was assessed and revealed significant differentiation between all populations (FST range = 0.01–0.28), with the largest divergence observed between the three geographically distant subgroups (QLD, NSW and VIC) along the east coast of Australia (average FST range = 0.17–0.23). Sub-group divergence appears to be a reflection of an isolation by distance effect and sampling strategy rather than true evidence of sub-speciation. This is further supported by low proportions of AMOVA variation between sub-species groups (11.19 %). Fine-scale analysis using genome-wide SNP loci and the NETVIEW pipeline revealed cryptic genetic sub-structuring within localised geographic regions, which corresponded to the hierarchical mating system of the species. High levels of genome-wide SNP heterozygosity were observed amongst all populations (He = 0.25–0.35), and when evaluating across the species to other vertebrate taxa were amongst the highest values observed. This illustrates that the species as a whole still retains high levels of diversity which is comparable to other outbred vertebrate taxa for genome-wide SNPs. Insights into the potential for adaptive variation in the koala were also gained using outlier analysis of genome-wide SNPs. A total of 10 putative outlier SNPs were identified indicating the high likelihood of local adaptations within populations and regions. This is the first use of genome-wide markers to assess population differentiation at a broad-scale in the koala and the first time that sex-linked SNPs have been identified in this species. The application of this novel genomic resource to populations across the species range will provide in-depth information allowing informed conservation priorities and management plans for in situ koalas across Australia and ex situ around the world.
    • Hepatitis and splenitis due to systemic tetratrichomoniasis in an American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

      Burns, Rachel E.; Braun, Josephine; Armién, Aníbal G.; Rideout, Bruce (2013)
      A free-ranging, young adult, female American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), found dead on the grounds of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Southern California, had severe multifocal to coalescing necrotizing hepatitis and splenitis on postmortem examination. Histologically, within the large areas of necrosis were myriad pleomorphic, 5–20 µm in diameter, protozoal organisms with 1 to multiple nuclei. Ultrastructurally, the organisms were consistent with a trichomonad flagellate. Polymerase chain reaction and sequencing of the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene identified nucleotide sequences with 99% identity to Tetratrichomonas gallinarum, which is a common inhabitant of the intestinal tract of galliform and anseriform birds that has occasionally been associated with disease, including typhlitis and hepatitis. Damage to the cecal mucosa in the pelican from trematodes and secondary bacterial infection could have allowed invasion and systemic dissemination of the organism. Exposure of the pelican to a variety of native and exotic anseriform and galliform birds at the zoological institution could have led to cross-species infection and severe manifestation of disease in a novel host.
    • Large carnivores and zoos as catalysts for engaging the public in the protection of biodiversity

      Consorte-McCrea, Adriana; Fernandez, Ana; Bainbridge, Alan; Moss, Andrew; Prévot, Anne-Caroline; Clayton, Susan; Glikman, Jenny A.; Johansson, Maria; López-Bao, José Vicente; Bath, Alistair J.; et al. (2019)
      Addressing the biodiversity crisis requires renewed collaborative approaches. Large carnivores are ambassador species, and as such they can aid the protection of a wide range of species, including evolutionarily distinct and threatened ones, while being popular for conservation marketing. However, conflicts between carnivores and people present a considerable challenge to biodiversity conservation. Our cross disciplinary essay brings together original research to discuss key issues in the conservation of large carnivores as keystone species for biodiversity rich, healthy ecosystems. Our findings suggest the need to promote coexistence through challenging ‘wilderness’ myths; to consider coexistence/conflict as a continuum; to include varied interest groups in decision making; to address fear through positive mediated experiences, and to explore further partnerships with zoos. As wide-reaching institutions visited by over 700 million people/year worldwide, zoos combine knowledge, emotion and social context creating ideal conditions for the development of care towards nature, pro-environmental behaviors and long-term connections between visitors and carnivores. Based on current research, we provide evidence that large carnivores and zoos are both powerful catalysts for public engagement with biodiversity conservation, recognizing barriers and suggesting future ways to collaborate to address biodiversity loss.
    • Leaping forward in amphibian health and nutrition

      Olea-Popelka, Francisco; Ferrie, Gina M.; Morris, Cheryl; Pessier, Allan P.; Schad, Kristine; Stamper, M. Andrew; Gagliardo, Ron; Koutsos, Elizabeth; Valdes, Eduardo V. (2014)
      …In this manuscript, we describe and summarize the outcomes of this workshop with regards (a) the identified gaps in knowledge, (b) identified priorities for closing these gaps, and (c) compile a list of actions to address these priorities. Four general areas of improvement were identified in relation to how measurements are currently being taken to evaluate ex situ amphibian health: nutrition, infectious diseases, husbandry, and integrated biology including genetics and endocrinology….
    • Lessons from a retrospective analysis of a 5-yr period of preshipment testing at San Diego Zoo: a risk-based approach to preshipment testing may benefit animal welfare

      Marinkovich, Matt; Wallace, Chelsea; Morris, Pat J.; Rideout, Bruce; Pye, Geoffrey W. (2016)
      ...An alternative disease risk-based approach, based on a comprehensive surveillance program including necropsy and preventive medicine examination testing and data, has been in practice since 2006 between the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. A retrospective analysis, evaluating comprehensive necropsy data and preshipment testing over a 5-yr study period, was performed to determine the viability of this model for use with sending animals to other institutions. Animals (607 birds, 704 reptiles and amphibians, and 341 mammals) were shipped to 116 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited and 29 non–AZA-accredited institutions....
    • Leukoencephalomyelopathy of mature captive cheetahs and other large felids: A novel neurodegenerative disease that came and went?

      Brower, A. I.; Munson, L.; Radcliffe, R. W.; Citino, S. B.; Lackey, L. B.; Van Winkle, T. J.; Stalis, Ilse H.; Terio, K. A.; Summers, B. A.; de Lahunta, A. (2014)
      A novel leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 73 mature male and female large captive felids between 1994 and 2005. While the majority of identified cases occurred in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), the disease was also found in members of 2 other subfamilies of Felidae: 1 generic tiger (Panthera tigris) and 2 Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi). The median age at time of death was 12 years, and all but 1 cheetah were housed in the United States. Characteristic clinical history included progressive loss of vision leading to blindness, disorientation, and/or difficulty eating. Neurologic deficits progressed at a variable rate over days to years. Mild to severe bilateral degenerative lesions were present in the cerebral white matter and variably and to a lesser degree in the white matter of the brain stem and spinal cord. Astrocytosis and swelling of myelin sheaths progressed to total white matter degeneration and cavitation. Large, bizarre reactive astrocytes are a consistent histopathologic feature of this condition. The cause of the severe white matter degeneration in these captive felids remains unknown; the lesions were not typical of any known neurotoxicoses, direct effects of or reactions to infectious diseases, or nutritional deficiencies. Leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 70 cheetahs, 1 tiger, and 2 panthers over an 11-year period, and to our knowledge, cases have ceased without planned intervention. Given what is known about the epidemiology of the disease and morphology of the lesions, an environmental or husbandry-associated source of neurotoxicity is suspected., A novel leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 73 mature male and female large captive felids between 1994 and 2005. While the majority of identified cases occurred in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), the disease was also found in members of 2 other subfamilies of Felidae: 1 generic tiger (Panthera tigris) and 2 Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi). The median age at time of death was 12 years, and all but 1 cheetah were housed in the United States. Characteristic clinical history included progressive loss of vision leading to blindness, disorientation, and/or difficulty eating. Neurologic deficits progressed at a variable rate over days to years. Mild to severe bilateral degenerative lesions were present in the cerebral white matter and variably and to a lesser degree in the white matter of the brain stem and spinal cord. Astrocytosis and swelling of myelin sheaths progressed to total white matter degeneration and cavitation. Large, bizarre reactive astrocytes are a consistent histopathologic feature of this condition. The cause of the severe white matter degeneration in these captive felids remains unknown; the lesions were not typical of any known neurotoxicoses, direct effects of or reactions to infectious diseases, or nutritional deficiencies. Leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 70 cheetahs, 1 tiger, and 2 panthers over an 11-year period, and to our knowledge, cases have ceased without planned intervention. Given what is known about the epidemiology of the disease and morphology of the lesions, an environmental or husbandry-associated source of neurotoxicity is suspected.
    • Opportunities and challenges for conserving small populations: An emerging role for zoos in genetic rescue

      Ryder, Oliver A.; Minteer, Ben A.; Maienschein, Jane; Collins, James P. (University of Chicago PressChicago, IL, 2018)
      The growing commitment of zoos to address accelerated rates of extinction and losses of biodiversity utilizing the populations they manage has led to the exploration of options to rescue species from extinction, including advanced genetic and reproductive technologies. The availability of banked viable cell cultures, such as those held in collections like San Diego Zoo Global’s Frozen Zoo® and other facilities, may ultimately provide resources to reduce extinction risk of species for which appropriate samples have been collected....
    • The Andean bear alopecia syndrome may be caused by social housing

      Van Horn, Russell C.; Sutherland-Smith, Meg; Sarcos, Andrés E. Bracho; Thomas, Gaylene; Shanks, Jacob A.; Owen, Megan A. (2019)
      The Andean bear alopecia syndrome is a progressive and chronic condition documented in ex situ populations. Recent advances focus on treating symptoms, not preventing future cases. We therefore explored the epidemiology of this syndrome through an analysis of husbandry and veterinary conditions of 63 Andean bears (26M:37F) housed in North and South American zoos and other ex situ circumstances. We had the most complete information for the North American population and found that 29% of females (n = 24) were affected. No males (n = 26) were affected. An analysis of generalized linear models indicated that three models were competitive in describing the occurrence of the condition (i.e., ?AICc ? 2): the model including only the individual's sex (?2 = 13.41, df = 1, p < .001), the model including both individual sex and social housing status (?2 = 1.36, df = 2, p < .001), and the model including both individual sex and the expression of stereotypical behaviors (?2 = 13.82, df = 2, p = .001). Stereotypical behaviors were common among both males (50%, n = 26) and females (51.9%, n = 27) whether or not they were affected, but the syndrome was seen only in females who had been socially housed. Therefore, we suggest that the Andean bear alopecia syndrome is a symptomatic response to the long-term social housing of bears that would otherwise not live socially. To prevent new cases, we recommend that female Andean bears be housed with adult conspecifics only when females choose to cohabitate.
    • The importance of behavioral research in zoological institutions: An introduction to the special issue

      Miller, Lance J.; Mellen, Jill D.; Kuczaj, Stan, A.II (2013)
      Behavioral research within zoological institutions (zoos and aquariums) has a long history that has helped to increase basic scientific knowledge and to facilitate the ability of institutions to make informed animal management decisions. Kleiman (1992) stated that "behavior research in zoos has enormous potential to contribute positively to the science of animal management, long-term breeding programs, conservation biology, and the advancement of scientific theory" (p. 309). As evidenced by the papers in this issue, behavioral research in zoos continues to be important. The purpose of this special issue is to highlight some of the behavioral research being conducted within zoos and aquariums and to demonstrate the importance of such work to zoological institutions and the greater scientific community. With a better understanding of the importance of behavioral research, we hope to inspire more zoological facilities to become involved either through funding/conducting research or by actively promoting the use of their animal collections for behavioral research to both the zoological and academic communities....