News

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Recent Submissions

  • 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….
  • Winning the genetic lottery: Biasing birth sex ratio results in more grandchildren

    Thorgerson, C.M.; Brady, C.M.; Howard, H.R.; Mason, G.J.; Vicino, Greg A. (2013)
    Population dynamics predicts that on average parents should invest equally in male and female offspring; similarly, the physiology of mammalian sex determination is supposedly stochastic, producing equal numbers of sons and daughters. However, a high quality parent can maximize fitness by biasing their birth sex ratio (SR) to the sex with the greatest potential to disproportionately outperform peers. All SR manipulation theories share a fundamental prediction: grandparents who bias birth SR should produce more grandoffspring via the favored sex. The celebrated examples of biased birth SRs in nature consistent with SR manipulation theories provide compelling circumstantial evidence. However, this prediction has never been directly tested in mammals, primarily because the complete three-generation pedigrees needed to test whether individual favored offspring produce more grandoffspring for the biasing grandparent are essentially impossible to obtain in nature. Three-generation pedigrees were constructed using 90 years of captive breeding records from 198 mammalian species. Male and female grandparents consistently biased their birth SR toward the sex that maximized second-generation success. The most strongly male-biased granddams and grandsires produced respectively 29% and 25% more grandoffspring than non-skewing conspecifics. The sons of the most male-biasing granddams were 2.7 times as fecund as those of granddams with a 50∶50 bias (similar results are seen in grandsires). Daughters of the strongest female-biasing granddams were 1.2 times as fecund as those of non-biasing females (this effect is not seen in grandsires). To our knowledge, these results are the first formal test of the hypothesis that birth SR manipulation is adaptive in mammals in terms of grandchildren produced, showing that SR manipulation can explain biased birth SR in general across mammalian species. These findings also have practical implications: parental control of birth SR has the potential to accelerate genetic loss and risk of extinction within captive populations of endangered species.
  • Immunocontraception of captive exotic species: v. prolonged antibody titers in dall sheep (ovis dalli dalli) and domestic goats (capra hircus) immunized with porcine zona pellucida

    Lyda, Robin O.; Frank, Kimberly M.; Wallace, Roberta; Lamberski, Nadine; Kirkpatrick, Jay F. (2013)
    Native porcine zona pellucida (PZP) immunocontraception has been used to inhibit fertility in more than 80 species of ungulates, although the duration of contraception efficacy varies among species in both Perissodactyla and Artiodactyla. This study examined anti-PZP antibody titers in Dall sheep and domestic goats at the Milwaukee County Zoo, and also Himalayan tahr and Armenian Mouflon sheep at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and, for comparison, Altai wapiti, lowland wisent, Javan banteng, and southern pudu at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, all were given a primer dose and booster dose of PZP....
  • Management of neonatal mammals

    Frazier, H. B.; Hawes, Janet; Michelson, K. J. (University of Chicago PressChicago, Illinois, 2013)
    Techniques and philosophies regarding neonatal care of zoo animals continue to evolve. The cornerstone of neonatal care should be reproduction in species- appropriate family groups that meets the physical and behavioral needs of zoo animals and supports healthy and sustainable captive populations. Historically, zoo infant care practices have included removing infants or neonates from their dams for hand-rearing to “tame” them for public programs, to increase reproduction, or to decrease infant mortality caused by parental neglect....
  • Fat-soluble vitamin and mineral comparisons between zoo-based and free-ranging koalas (phascolarctos cinereus)

    Schmidt, Debra A.; Pye, Geoffrey W.; Hamlin-Andrus, Chris C.; Ellis, William A.; Ellersieck, Mark R.; Chen, Tai C.; Holick, Michael F. (2013)
    As part of a health investigation on koalas at San Diego Zoo, serum samples were analyzed from 18 free-ranging and 22 zoo-based koalas, Phascolarctos cinereus. Serum concentrations of calcium, chloride, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc, and vitamins A, E, and 25(OH)D3 were quantified....
  • Metabolic bone disease in juvenile koalas (phascolartcos cinereus)

    Pye, Geoffrey W.; Gait, Sarah Catherine; Mulot, Baptiste; de Asua, Maria Delclaux Real; Martinez-Nevado, Eva; Bonar, Christopher J.; Baines, Stephen J.; Baines, Elizabeth A. (2013)
    Due to climate restrictions in parts of North America and Europe, koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are housed indoors. Koala young (joeys) raised indoors are susceptible to the development of metabolic bone disease (MBD) due to a lack of exposure to natural ultraviolet light to themselves and their female paren....
  • Laparoscopic vasectomy in african savannah elephant (loxodonta africana); surgical technique and results

    Marais, Hendrik J; Hendrickson, Dean A; Stetter, Mark; Zuba, Jeffery R.; Penning, Mark; Siegal-Willott, Jess; Hardy, Christine (2013)
    Several small, enclosed reserves in southern Africa are experiencing significant elephant population growth, which has resulted in associated environmental damage and changes in biodiversity. Although several techniques exist to control elephant populations, e.g., culling, relocation, and immunocontraception, the technique of laparoscopic vasectomy of free-ranging bull elephants was investigated....
  • Evaluating the performance of captive breeding techniques for conservation hatcheries: A case study of the delta smelt captive breeding program

    Fisch, Kathleen M.; Ivy, Jamie A.; Burton, Ronald S.; May, Bernie (2013)
    The delta smelt, an endangered fish species endemic to the San Francisco Bay-Delta, California, United States, was recently brought into captivity for species preservation. This study retrospectively evaluates the implementation of a genetic management plan for the captive delta smelt population....
  • Using rattlesnake microsatellites to determine paternity in captive bushmasters (Lachesis muta)

    Pozarowski, K.; Ivy, Jamie A.; Herrmann, H.W. (2013)
    We used 10 microsatellite DNA markers originally described for two Crotalus and one Sistrurus species to infer paternity in a captive‐hatched clutch of Lachesis muta. Although the dam was known, records listed two potential sires, which prevented the inclusion of those offspring in a captive breeding program....
  • Conservation genomics of threatened animal species

    Steiner, Cynthia C.; Putnam, Andrea S.; Hoeck, Paquita E. A.; Ryder, Oliver A. (2013)
    The genomics era has opened up exciting possibilities in the field of conservation biology by enabling genomic analyses of threatened species that previously were limited to model organisms. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) and the collection of genome-wide data allow for more robust studies of the demographic history of populations and adaptive variation associated with fitness and local adaptation.…
  • Tumoral calcinosis form of hydroxyapatite deposition disease in related red-bellied short-necked turtles, Emydura subglobosa

    Burns, Rachel E.; Bicknese, Elizabeth; Westropp, J. L.; Shiraki, R.; Stalis, Isle H. (2013)
    Ten of 12 red-bellied short-necked turtles from a single clutch presented at 9 months of age with multiple white to tan nodules on their feet. Histologically, the nodules were composed of large periarticular deposits of mineralized crystalline material that extended into the joint spaces of interphalangeal joints and was surrounded by granulomatous inflammation and fibrosis. Crystallographic analysis determined the material to be apatite (calcium phosphate hydroxide) consistent with the tumoral calcinosis form of hydroxyapatite deposition disease (HADD). HADD has previously been described in aquatic turtles and rarely lizards and must be differentiated from gout in reptiles. A cause for the tumoral calcinosis lesions in these turtles could not be determined; however, based on previous reports in this species, a species-specific predilection, in conjunction with unknown environmental factors, is suspected. The use of the terms HADD, pseudogout (calcium pyrophosphate crystal deposition disease), and calcinosiscircumscripta has been inconsistent, creating confusion in the literature.
  • Social learning in captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana africana)

    Greco, Brian J.; Brown, Tracey K.; Andrews, Jeff R. M.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Caine, Nancy G. (2013)
    …Social learning is assumed to be important for elephants, but evidence in support of that claim is mostly anecdotal. Using a herd of six adult female African bush elephants (Loxodonta africana africana) at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park, we evaluated whether viewing a conspecific’s interactions facilitated learning of a novel task….
  • Clinical challenge. Renal adenocarcinoma in a spitting cobra

    Belasco-Zeitz, Marianne; Pye, Geoffrey W.; Burns, Rachel E.; Pessier, Allan P. (2013)
    A 16-yr-old, male red spitting cobra (Naja pallida) (weight, 1.9 kg) presented with caudal coelomic swelling…. Blood from a male sibling (weight, 1.35 kg) was collected for comparison purposes and was reported with WBC < 5,000 × 106 cells/μl; uric acid, 6.4 mg/dl; calcium, 14.8 mg/dl; phosphorous, 6.6 mg/dl; total protein, 6.9 g/dl; and globulins, 4.2 g/dl…
  • Behavioral diversity as a potential indicator of positive animal welfare

    Miller, Lance J.; Vicino, Greg A.; Sheftel, Jessica; Lauderdale, Lisa K. (2020)
    Modern day zoos and aquariums continuously assess the welfare of their animals and use evidence to make informed management decisions. Historically, many of the indicators of animal welfare used to assess the collection are negative indicators of welfare, such as stereotypic behavior. However, a lack of negative indicators of animal welfare does not demonstrate that an individual animal is thriving. There is a need for validated measures of positive animal welfare and there is a growing body of evidence that supports the use of behavioral diversity as a positive indicator of welfare. This includes an inverse relationship with stereotypic behavior as well as fecal glucocorticoid metabolites and is typically higher in situations thought to promote positive welfare. This review article highlights previous research on behavioral diversity as a potential positive indicator of welfare. Details are provided on how to calculate behavioral diversity and how to use it when evaluating animal welfare. Finally, the review will indicate how behavioral diversity can be used to inform an evidence-based management approach to animal care and welfare.
  • Noninvasive sampling for detection of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus and genomic DNA in Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephants

    Jeffrey, Alison; Evans, Tierra Smiley; Molter, Christine M.; Howard, Lauren L.; Ling, Paul; Goldstein, Tracey; Gilardi, Kirsten (2020)
    Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) hemorrhagic disease (EEHV-HD) threatens Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) population sustainability in North America…. To evaluate noninvasive sample collection options, paired invasively collected (blood, trunk wash and oral swabs), and noninvasively collected (chewed plant and fecal) samples were compared over 6 wk from 9 Asian elephants and 12 African elephants….
  • Provision of ultraviolet basking lights to indoor housed tropical birds and their effect on suspected vitamin D3 deficiency

    Drake, Gabby Jeanne-Clare; Shea, Robyn L.; Fidgett, Andrea; Lopez, Javier; Christley, Robert M. (2017)
    Vitamin D deficiency (measured as 25(OH)D3) can occur if birds are fed a vitamin D deficient diet and do not have access to ultraviolet B light (UVB). This can result in eggs with deficient yolks and consequent metabolic bone disease (MBD) in chicks. In this study, hypovitaminosis D was suspected in 31 adult birds, from five orders, housed indoors long-term without prior access to UVB light. The study aimed to assess the effect of providing UVB basking lights on their vitamin D status and incidence of MBD in chicks. It also aimed to assess whether the birds would access the UVB provided. Breeding and pathology records were analysed, and birds were blood tested for 25(OH)D3 before, and 12 months after, being provided with access to UVB basking lights. The area of perching with UVB irradiance was filmed before and after the UVB basking lights were switched on. There was a significant increase in 25(OH)D3 after 12 months of UVB provision from a mean of 9.3 nmol/L to 14.2 nmol/L (p = 0.001, CI = 2.35 to 9.47). Annual incidence of metabolic bone disease in chicks dropped from an average of 14.4% over the three years prior to UVB provision to 2.8% in the two years afterwards, although this reduction was not statistically significant. Birds appeared to actively seek the basking spots and significantly increased the proportion of time spent in the area of UVB irradiance (p = 0.02). No correlation was found between the total amount, or change in time spent in the UVB area and the final, or change in individual birds circulating 25(OH)D3 levels. These results show that indoor housed birds will bask in UVB light if provided and this radiation can increase vitamin D levels of the birds, which may prevent MBD in their offspring.
  • Testicular seminomas in two giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

    Molter, Christine M. (Disney’s Animals, Science, and EnvironmentOrlando, Florida, 2014)
  • Kinship-based management strategies for captive breeding programs when pedigrees are unknown or uncertain

    Putnam, Andrea S.; Ivy, Jamie A. (2014)
    …Using the demographic parameters of a North American captive population of Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx), 2 kinship-based breeding-pair selection strategies were modeled for their performance in handling pedigrees with varying degrees of parentage uncertainty…. Both kinship-based breeding-pair selection strategies significantly outperformed the nonkinship-based strategies.
  • Dermal hemangiosarcoma in a sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)

    Rivas, Anne E.; Pye, Geoffrey W.; Papendick, Rebecca (2014)
    ….There are published reports of sugar gliders diagnosed with neoplasia, and oncology cases affecting this species are occasionally seen in clinical practice. Based on an extensive literature search, the authors believe this is the first report of a dermal hemangiosarcoma in a sugar glider.
  • Cerebral Angiostrongylus cantonensis infection in a captive African pygmy falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus) in southern California

    Burns, Rachel E.; Bicknese, Elizabeth; Qvarnstrom, Yvonne; DeLeon-Carnes, Marlene; Drew, Clifton P.; Gardiner, Chris H.; Rideout, Bruce (2014)
    A 10-month-old, female African pygmy falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus) hatched and housed at the San Diego Zoo developed neurologic signs and died from a cerebral infection with the rat lungworm Angiostrongylus cantonensis…. To the authors’ knowledge, this infection has not previously been reported in a bird in the United States and has not been known to be naturally acquired in any species in this region of the world. The source of the infection was not definitively determined but was possibly feeder geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus) imported from Southeast Asia where the parasite is endemic.

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