• 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.
    • Effects of season and social interaction on fecal testosterone in wild male giant pandas: implications for energetics and mating strategies

      Nie, Y.; Zhang, Z.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Wei, F. (2012)
      In the first-ever study of reproductive endocrinology in wild male giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), we provide new insights into the reproductive ecology of the species. We tracked and observed pandas in Foping Nature Reserve of the Qinling Mountains for 3 years, collecting fecal samples for testosterone metabolite analysis and data on reproductive activity....
    • Metabolome-informed microbiome analysis refines metadata classifications and reveals unexpected medication transfer in captive cheetahs

      Gauglitz, Julia M.; Morton, James T.; Tripathi, Anupriya; Hansen, Shalisa; Gaffney, Michele; Carpenter, Carolina; Weldon, Kelly C.; Shah, Riya; Parampil, Amy; Fidgett, Andrea; et al. (2020)
      Even high-quality collection and reporting of study metadata in microbiome studies can lead to various forms of inadvertently missing or mischaracterized information that can alter the interpretation or outcome of the studies, especially with nonmodel organisms. Metabolomic profiling of fecal microbiome samples can provide empirical insight into unanticipated confounding factors that are not possible to obtain even from detailed care records. We illustrate this point using data from cheetahs from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The metabolomic characterization indicated that one cheetah had to be moved from the non-antibiotic-exposed group to the antibiotic-exposed group. The detection of the antibiotic in this second cheetah was likely due to grooming interactions with the cheetah that was administered antibiotics. Similarly, because transit time for stool is variable, fecal samples within the first few days of antibiotic prescription do not all contain detected antibiotics, and the microbiome is not yet affected. These insights significantly altered the way the samples were grouped for analysis (antibiotic versus no antibiotic) and the subsequent understanding of the effect of the antibiotics on the cheetah microbiome. Metabolomics also revealed information about numerous other medications and provided unexpected dietary insights that in turn improved our understanding of the molecular patterns on the impact on the community microbial structure. These results suggest that untargeted metabolomic data provide empirical evidence to correct records and aid in the monitoring of the health of nonmodel organisms in captivity, although we also expect that these methods may be appropriate for other social animals, such as cats.
    • Relationship between behavioural diversity and faecal glucocorticoid metabolites: a case study with cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)

      Miller, Lance J.; Pisacane, CB; Vicino, Greg A. (2016)
      ... The goal of the current study was to continue efforts to validate behavioural diversity as an indicator of welfare using cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) as a model species. Behavioural and faecal glucocorticoid metabolite data were collected on 18 cheetah at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park over a period of three months to explore the relationship between behavioural diversity and adrenal hormones related to the stress response.....