• Estimating daily walking distance of captive African elephants using an accelerometer

      Rothwell, E. S.; Bercovitch, Fred B.; Andrews, Jeff R. M.; Anderson, Matthew J. (2011)
      Two central concerns for elephant husbandry and management are whether zoological enclosures are appropriately sized and the degree to which naturalistic exercise and activity are observed in such enclosures. In order to address these issues, accurate data on the daily walking distance of elephants both in situ and ex situ are necessary. We used an accelerometer, a pedometer that measures step count and activity level, to estimate walking distance in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park….
    • Herpesvirus surveillance and discovery in zoo-housed ruminants

      Partin, Teagen G.; Schrenzel, Mark D.; Braun, Josephine; Witte, Carmel L.; Kubiski, Steven V.; Lee, Justin; Rideout, Bruce (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2021)
      Gammaherpesvirus infections are ubiquitous in captive and free-ranging ruminants and are associated with a variety of clinical diseases ranging from subclinical or mild inflammatory syndromes to fatal diseases such as malignant catarrhal fever. Gammaherpesvirus infections have been fully characterized in only a few ruminant species, and the overall diversity, host range, and biologic effects of most are not known. This study investigated the presence and host distribution of gammaherpesviruses in ruminant species at two facilities, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We tested antemortem (blood, nasal or oropharyngeal swabs) or postmortem (internal organs) samples from 715 healthy or diseased ruminants representing 96 species and subspecies, using a consensus-based herpesvirus PCR for a segment of the DNA polymerase (DPOL) gene. Among the 715 animals tested, 161 (22.5%) were PCR and sequencing positive for herpesvirus, while only 11 (6.83%) of the PCR positive animals showed clinical signs of malignant catarrhal fever. Forty-four DPOL genotypes were identified of which only 10 have been reported in GenBank. The data describe viral diversity within species and individuals, identify host ranges of potential new viruses, and address the proclivity and consequences of interspecies transmission during management practices in zoological parks. The discovery of new viruses with wide host ranges and presence of co-infection within individual animals also suggest that the evolutionary processes influencing Gammaherpesvirus diversity are more complex than previously recognized.
    • 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....
    • Intensity of play behavior as a potential measure of welfare: A novel method for quantifying the integrated intensity of behavior in African elephants

      Vicino, Greg A.; Marcacci, Emily S. (2015)
      This study was developed to test an equation that quantified the intensity and duration of play bouts in a particularly gregarious mammal, African elephants (Loxodonta africana ) housed at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, CA.… Here we present the methods and technique used to calculate a standardized Integrated Play Index (IPI) that has potential for use in other socially living species that are known to exhibit play behavior
    • Lifetime cancer prevalence and life history traits in mammals

      Boddy, Amy M.; Abegglen, Lisa M.; Pessier, Allan P.; Schiffman, Joshua D.; Maley, Carlo C.; Witte, Carmel L. (2020)
      Background Cancer is a common diagnosis in many mammalian species, yet they vary in their vulnerability to cancer. The factors driving this variation are unknown, but life history theory offers potential explanations to why cancer defense mechanisms are not equal across species. Methodology Here we report the prevalence of neoplasia and malignancy in 37 mammalian species, representing 11 mammalian orders, using 42 years of well curated necropsy data from the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We collected data on life history components of these species and tested for associations between life history traits and both neoplasia and malignancy, while controlling for phylogenetic history. Results These results support Peto’s paradox, in that we find no association between lifespan and/or body mass and the prevalence of neoplasia or malignancy. However, a positive relationship exists between litter size and prevalence of malignancy (P = 0.005, Adj. R2 = 0.212), suggesting that a species’ life history strategy may influence cancer vulnerabilities. Lastly, we tested for the relationship between placental invasiveness and malignancy. We find no evidence for an association between placental depth and malignancy prevalence (P = 0.618, Adj. R2 = 0.068). Conclusions Life history theory offers a powerful framework to understand variation in cancer defenses across the tree of life. These findings provide insight into the relationship between life history traits and cancer vulnerabilities, which suggest a trade-off between reproduction and cancer defenses. Lay summary Why are some mammals more vulnerable to cancer than others? We test whether life history trade-offs may explain this variation in cancer risk. Bigger, longer-lived animals do not develop more cancer compared to smaller, shorter-lived animals. However, we find a positive association between litter size and cancer prevalence in mammals.
    • 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.
    • Preference assessments as a tool to evaluate environmental enrichment

      Woods, Jocelyn M.; Lane, Erin K.; Miller, Lance J. (2020)
      …Ten-minute free operant, paired-choice preference assessments were implemented in Study 1 to determine the enrichment preferences of African lions (N = 3). Following Study 1, Study 2 was conducted, which examined the behavior of African lions with enrichment items over the course of 30, 24-hr trials to evaluate the relationship between preferences established in Study 1 and long-term interaction with the enrichment….
    • 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.....
    • Retrospective evaluation of the use of parenteral nutrition in hospitalized nondomestic ruminants.

      Mulreany, Lauren M.; Kinney, Matthew E.; Clancy, Meredith M.; Lamberski, Nadine; Werre, Stephen R. (2020)
      Parenteral nutrition (PN) is one method of providing nutrient support to hospitalized, nondomestic ruminants that have a decreased appetite in hospital or have high metabolic demands caused by illness.... All animals included were greater than 6 mo of age. This age criterion was selected to ensure animals had a fully functioning rumen. Eighteen were female (75%) and six (25%) were male. Eight were pregnant at the time of hospitalization, and three were lactating with a nursing calf at their side. Species included southern gerenuk (Litocranius walleri walleri, n = 3), Thomson's gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii, n = 3), Zambesi lechwe (Kobus leche leche, n = 2), East African sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii, n = 2), western tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus cephalophus, n = 2), eastern bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci, n = 2), Transcaspian urial (Ovis orientalis arkal, n = 1), South African greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros strepsiceros, n = 1), Nubian Soemmerring's gazelle (Nanger soemmerringii soemmerringii, n = 1), slender-horned gazelle (Gazella leptoceros, n = 1), Sudan barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia blainei, n = 1), Nile lechwe (Kobus megaceros, n = 1), Grant's gazelle (Nanger granti, n = 1), scimitar horned oryx (Oryx dammah, n = 1), South African springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis marsupialis, n = 1), and yellow-backed duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor, n = 1).
    • 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….
    • The effects of GPS collars on African elephant (Loxodonta africana) behavior at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

      Horback, Kristina Marie; Miller, Lance J.; Andrews, Jeffrey; Kuczaj, Stanley Abraham; Anderson, Matthew J. (2012)
      The use of tracking devices (e.g., VHF radio collars, GPS collars, ear transmitters) enables researchers to assess activity budgets, species-specific movement patterns, effects of environmental enrichment, and exercise levels in zoo animals….The present study examined solitary and social behavior rates, as well as overall activity budgets, in eight African elephants living at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Escondido, CA, USA....
    • Twenty-four hour activity levels and walking rates of African elephants in a zoological setting

      Miller, Lance J.; Andrews, Jeff; Anderson, Mathew J.; (Houston, TX, 2010)
      …While there are many questions that need to be addressed surrounding the management of elephants, a first step is to examine the daily activity levels and walking rates of elephants within these facilities. The current study examined these questions for African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park....