• Giant Pandas: Biology, Veterinary Medicine and Management

      Wildt, David E.; Zhang, Anju; Zhang, Hemin; Janssen, Donald L.; Ellis, Susie (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
      The giant panda is one of the world's most recognized animals, but until now the biology of this threatened species has been a mystery....
    • Gut microbiota and phytoestrogen-associated infertility in southern white rhinoceros

      Williams, Candace L.; Ybarra, Alexis R.; Meredith, Ashley N.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Tubbs, Christopher W. (2019)
      With recent poaching of southern white rhinoceros (SWR [Ceratotherium simum simum]) reaching record levels, the need for a robust assurance population is urgent. However, the global captive SWR population is not currently self-sustaining due to the reproductive failure of captive-born females. Dietary phytoestrogens have been proposed to play a role in this phenomenon, and recent work has demonstrated a negative relationship between diet estrogenicity and fertility of captive-born female SWR. To further examine this relationship, we compared gut microbial communities, fecal phytoestrogens, and fertility of SWR to those of another rhinoceros species—the greater one-horned rhinoceros (GOHR [Rhinoceros unicornis]), which consumes a similar diet but exhibits high levels of fertility in captivity. Using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and mass spectrometry, we identified a species-specific fecal microbiota and three dominant fecal phytoestrogen profiles. These profiles exhibited various levels of estrogenicity when tested in an in vitro estrogen receptor activation assay for both rhinoceros species, with profiles dominated by the microbial metabolite equol stimulating the highest levels of receptor activation. Finally, we found that SWR fertility varies significantly not only with respect to phytoestrogen profile, but also with respect to the abundance of several bacterial taxa and microbially derived phytoestrogen metabolites. Taken together, these data suggest that in addition to species differences in estrogen receptor sensitivity to phytoestrogens, reproductive outcomes may be driven by the gut microbiota’s transformation of dietary phytoestrogens in captive SWR females. IMPORTANCE Southern white rhinoceros (SWR) poaching has reached record levels, and captive infertility has rendered SWR assurance populations no longer self-sustaining. Previous work has identified dietary phytoestrogens as a likely cause of this problem. Here, we investigate the role of gut microbiota in this phenomenon by comparing two rhinoceros species to provide the first characterizations of gut microbiomes for any rhinoceros species. To our knowledge, our approach, combining parallel sequencing, mass spectrometry, and estrogen receptor activation assays, provides insight into the relationship between microbially mediated phytoestrogen metabolism and fertility that is novel for any vertebrate species. With this information, we plan to direct future work aimed at developing strategies to improve captive reproduction in the hope of alleviating their threat of extinction.
    • 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....
    • Impacts of early viability selection on management of inbreeding and genetic diversity in conservation

      Grueber, Catherine E.; Hogg, Carolyn J.; Ivy, Jamie A.; Belov, Katherine (2015)
      Maintaining genetic diversity is a crucial goal of intensive management of threatened species, particularly for those populations that act as sources for translocation or re‐introduction programmes. Most captive genetic management is based on pedigrees and a neutral theory of inheritance, an assumption that may be violated by selective forces operating in captivity. Here, we explore the conservation consequences of early viability selection: differential offspring survival that occurs prior to management or research observations, such as embryo deaths in utero....
    • Induced pluripotent stem cells from highly endangered species

      Ben-Nun, Inbar Friedrich; Montague, Susanne C; Houck, Marlys L.; Tran, Ha T; Garitaonandia, Ibon; Leonardo, Trevor R; Wang, Yu-Chieh; Charter, Suellen J.; Laurent, Louise C; Ryder, Oliver A.; et al. (2011)
      For some highly endangered species there are too few reproductively capable animals to maintain adequate genetic diversity, and extraordinary measures are necessary to prevent extinction. We report generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from two endangered species: a primate, the drill, Mandrillus leucophaeus and the nearly extinct northern white rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum cottoni. iPSCs may eventually facilitate reintroduction of genetic material into breeding populations.
    • 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.
    • Koala bellows and their association with the spatial dynamics of free-ranging koalas

      Ellis, William A.; Bercovitch, Fred B.; FitzGibbon, S.; Roe, P.; Wimmer, J.; Melzer, A.; Wilson, R. (2011)
      Acoustic communication mediates sociality in a variety of animals. One of the more ubiquitous vocal signals to have evolved is the sexual advertisement call of males. Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) males emit a sonorous bellow call during the breeding season, but no detailed studies of the calling context appear to have been published. We used a novel remote sound detection network to monitor koala bellowing while simultaneously collecting koala behavioral data using collar-mounted GPS units. Our approach enabled us to examine fine scale temporal variation in vocalization and spatial movements of free-ranging koalas without direct behavioral observations. Bellow occurrence was susceptible to weather conditions, with fewer calls occurring when wind speed and temperatures were high. The number of bellow vocalizations recorded during an annual period mirrored breeding activity, with nearly all male bellows recorded during peak mating season. The distance traveled by koalas and the occurrence of koala bellows both peaked around midnight, but only female travel distance during the breeding season was temporally correlated with bellow occurrence. We conclude that environmental factors might trigger male bellowing to launch the breeding season and that these male vocal signals function more to attract females than to repel males. Female mate selection is probably an important component of male reproductive success in koalas, which is partly mediated by male bellow characteristics.
    • 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....
    • Ovulation induction in anovulatory southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) without altrenogest

      Pennington, Parker M.; Marshall, Kira L.; Capiro, Jonnie M.; Felton, Rachel G.; Durrant, Barbara S. (2019)
      Lack of ovulation is common in captive southern white rhino females and contributes to poor reproductive success. We show that ovulation can be induced efficien
    • Pedigree analysis reveals a generational decline in reproductive success of captive Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii): implications for captive management of threatened species

      Farquharson, Katherine A.; Hogg, Carolyn J.; Grueber, Catherine E. (2017)
      Captive breeding programs are an increasingly popular tool to augment the conservation of threatened wild populations. Many programs keep detailed pedigrees, which are used to prescribe breeding targets to meet demographic and genetic goals....
    • 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.
    • San Clemente loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus mearnsi) 2010 Studbook

      Grant, Tandora D. (San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, 2011)
    • Scent-marking behavior by female sloth bears during estrus

      Khadpekar, Yaduraj; Whiteman, John P.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Owen, Megan A.; Prakash, Sant (2021)
      … Important aspects of sloth bear biology and ecology, such as reproductive physiology and behavior, are largely unknown. Increased scent-marking by anogenital rubbing during breeding season has been recorded in other bear species. We studied the genital rubbing behavior of 37 captive female sloth bears (2–18 yr of age) at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, India, for 4 breeding seasons over a period of 3.5 years (1 Jun 2015 to 31 Dec 2018)….
    • Seed dispersal by a captive corvid: the role of the ‘Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis) in shaping Hawai‘i's plant communities

      Culliney, Susan; Pejchar, Liba; Switzer, Richard A.; Ruiz-Gutierrez, Viviana (2012)
      ...The endangered ‘Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis), the largest remaining species of native Hawaiian forest bird, was once common in mesic and dry forests on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, but today it exists solely in captivity. Prior to its extinction in the wild, the ‘Alalā may have helped to establish and maintain native Hawaiian forest communities by dispersing seeds of a wide variety of native plants....
    • The cryptic genetic structure of the North American captive gorilla population

      Nsubuga, A.M.; Holzman, J.; Chemnick, Leona G.; Ryder, Oliver A.; (2010)
      Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) were imported from across their geographical range to North American zoos from the late 1800s through 1974.... Here, we analyze 32 microsatellite loci in 144 individuals using a Bayesian clustering method to delineate clusters of individuals among a sample of founders of the captive North American zoo gorilla collection....
    • The effects of group versus intensive housing on the retention of genetic diversity in insurance populations

      Gooley, Rebecca M.; Hogg, Carolyn J.; Belov, Katherine; Grueber, Catherine E. (2018)
      Retention of genetic diversity and demographic sustainability are the cornerstones of conservation breeding success. In theory, monogamous breeding with equal reproductive output will retain genetic diversity in insurance populations more effectively than group housing which allows mate choice or intrasexual competition. However, the ecological relevance of group housing to a species can outweigh the theoretical benefits of forced monogamy. Here we investigated the influence of different types of captive housing (group (mate choice) versus intensive (forced monogamy)) on reproductive success, litter size and genetic diversity in the endangered Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii).
    • Urinary profiles of progestin and androgen metabolites in female polar bears during parturient and non-parturient cycles

      Knott, Katrina K.; Mastromonaco, Gabriela F.; Owen, Megan A.; Kouba, Andrew J. (2017)
      Due to the environmental and anthropogenic impacts that continue to threaten the reproductive success of polar bears, a more detailed understanding of their reproductive cycle is needed. Captive populations of polar bears provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about the reproductive physiology of the species. Progestin (P4) and androgen (T) metabolites in urine, and their ratio (P4:T), were examined during 11 reproductive cycles of captive female polar bears (n = 4) to characterize the steroid hormone profile during pregnancy and determine possible variations related to reproductive failure. The concentration of hormone metabolites in urine were determined through enzyme immunoassay. Reproductive cycles were classified as pregnant (n = 3), anovulatory (n = 4) and ovulatory-non-parturient (n = 4) based on the changes in urinary hormone metabolite values and cub production. In the absence of a lactational suppression of estrus, elevated androgen concentrations suggested resumption of follicular development within 3 weeks of parturition. Breeding behaviours were most often observed when androgen values were at their highest or in decline. Ovulation was identified by a return to basal androgen concentration and elevation of progestins within 1–4 weeks after breeding. As a result, urinary concentrations of progestins were greater than androgens (P4:T ratio ≥ 1.0) during ovulatory cycles whereas the P4:T ratio was <1.0 when females were anovulatory. Progestins and the P4:T ratio of parturient cycles were greatest beginning in June/July (17–20 weeks after breeding) and reached a peak at 24–37 weeks (mid-October/mid-November, 4–9 weeks before birth of cubs). Non-invasive monitoring of hormone metabolites in urine provided a rapid determination of endocrine function for improved husbandry and reproductive management of polar bears in captivity. Further research is warranted to understand the reproductive endocrinology of polar bears and its impact on conservation and management of this species in captivity and the wild.
    • Use of molecular data in zoo and aquarium collection management: Benefits, challenges, and best practices

      Norman, Anita J.; Putnam, Andrea S.; Ivy, Jamie A. (2019)
      The global zoo and aquarium community widely recognizes that its animal collections and cooperative breeding programs are facing a sustainability crisis. It has become commonly accepted that numerous priority species cannot be maintained unless new management strategies are adopted....
    • Using microsatellite diversity in wild Anegada iguanas (Cyclura pinguis) to establish relatedness in a captive breeding group of this critically endangered species

      Mitchell, A.A.; Lau, J.; Chemnick, Leona G.; Thompson, E. A.; Alberts, Allison C.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Gerber, Glenn P. (2011)
      Awareness of the genealogical relationships between founder animals in captive breeding programs is essential for the selection of mating pairs that maintain genetic diversity. If captive founder relationships are unknown they can be inferred using genetic data from wild populations. Here, we report the results of such an analysis for six Cyclura pinguis (Sauria: Iguanidae) acquired as adults in 1999 by the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research to begin a captive breeding program for this critically endangered species....