Buena Vista, FL, United States
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Leighty K.A.,Animals | Grand A.P.,Animals | Pittman Courte V.L.,Animals | Maloney M.A.,Animals | Bettinger T.L.,Animals
Journal of Comparative Psychology | Year: 2013

Prior work with chelonians has demonstrated their capacity for successful performance in cognitive tasks, including those requiring color discrimination. Here, we sought to expand on historical research and determine whether eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina) are capable of not only making simple color discriminations but also whether they can demonstrate abstract concept formation evidenced by using a relational response rule in their discrimination performance. Two eastern box turtles were rapidly and successfully trained on a black-and-white two-choice discrimination task using painted paddles and food reinforcement. After mastery, a medium gray paddle was added as a choice stimulus and turtle "Flippy" was reinforced for selecting the darker of the 2 stimuli presented in each trial, and turtle "Mario" was reinforced for selecting the lighter of the paddles presented. Nonreinforced probe trials incorporating light and dark gray stimuli paired with all other color options were then added to each session to test the turtles' ability to use the relationship between choice stimuli to guide responding. The turtles successfully selected the paddles corresponding to their assigned relational response rule of "darker" or "lighter" at a level significantly above that predicted by chance. The turtles then demonstrated immediate generalization of their relational rule in testing with a novel array of blue paddles. Finally, the turtles continued to use their relational rule when presented with a novel array of green paddles in a traditional transposition task. Together, these findings support the capacity for higher order cognitive functioning in chelonians beyond that previously described. © 2013 American Psychological Association.


Miller A.,Animals | Leighty K.A.,Animals | Bettinger T.L.,Animals
Zoo Biology | Year: 2013

The systematic evaluation of changes in animal management practices is critical to ensuring the best possible welfare. Here, we examined the behavioral impacts of intermittently housing our six adult female tigers, who have been housed socially for much of their lives, individually overnight to allow for specialized care required by their advancing age. We looked for behavioral changes indicative of both positive and negative changes in welfare by monitoring time spent asleep, sleeping position, body position while awake, as well as pacing, door pounding, self-grooming, roaring, and chuffing while housed socially as compared to individually overnight. Housing condition did not affect time spent asleep, sleeping positions assumed or the more preferred body positions while awake. Further, pacing, door-pounding, and roaring were infrequent and not altered by housing condition. Self-grooming did increase when housed individually but no evidence of over-grooming was present and chuffing, a close proximity social vocalization, was more likely to occur when socially housed. Taken together, these findings support the notion that transitioning to individual housing as needed is a viable option for managing cats accustomed to being maintained in a social group. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Successful pregnancy in African elephants is influenced by biological and environmental factors. For managed elephants many of these factors are set directly or indirectly by their human care takers, including nutrition and husbandry. While African elephants often struggle to conceive and produce healthy offspring under human care, Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) has effectively managed six gestations to fruition in three cows. Despite differences between mothers in terms of BW and growth curves during gravidity, each pregnancy successfully resulted in the birth of a healthy calf. Body weight (BW) gain during pregnancy ranged from 245 to 558kg. Obesity in elephants is associated with increased occurrence of dystocia and mortality of the fetus and mother, hence understanding normal weight gains is an integral concept. Diet (dry matter basis) included high levels of fiber throughout pregnancies (60-70% neutral detergent fiber), vitamin E supplementation (116-214mg/kg diet of alpha-tocopherol), as well as low levels of starch (2.5-5.1%) and crude fat (1.9-2.4%). Caretaker directed exercise during pregnancy at DAK served to prevent ventral edema, and increase muscle tone to prepare cows for parturition. Demonstrating techniques for effective care of pregnant females, as well as normal growth curves and fluctuations under ex situ conditions are necessary for future positive outcomes. Ensuring reproductive success through proper husbandry and nutrition are a key to long-term conservation of elephants. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Anderson N.E.,University of Edinburgh | Mubanga J.,University of Edinburgh | Fevre E.M.,University of Edinburgh | Picozzi K.,University of Edinburgh | And 3 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2011

Background: Animal and human trypanosomiasis are constraints to both animal and human health in Sub-Saharan Africa, but there is little recent evidence as to how these parasites circulate in wild hosts in natural ecosystems. The Luangwa Valley in Zambia supports high densities of tsetse flies (Glossina species) and is recognised as an historical sleeping sickness focus. The objective of this study was to characterise the nature of the reservoir community for trypanosomiasis in the absence of influence from domesticated hosts. Methodology/Principal Findings: A cross-sectional survey of trypanosome prevalence in wildlife hosts was conducted in the Luangwa Valley from 2005 to 2007. Samples were collected from 418 animals and were examined for the presence of Trypanosoma brucei s.l., T. b. rhodesiense, Trypanosoma congolense and Trypanosoma vivax using molecular diagnostic techniques. The overall prevalence of infection in all species was 13.9% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 10.71-17.57%). Infection was significantly more likely to be detected in waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) (Odds ratio [OR] = 10.5, 95% CI: 2.36-46.71), lion (Panthera leo) (OR = 5.3, 95% CI: 1.40-19.69), greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) (OR = 4.7, 95% CI: 1.41-15.41) and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) (OR = 4.5, 95% CI: 1.51-13.56). Bushbucks are important hosts for T. brucei s.l. while the Bovidae appear the most important for T. congolense. The epidemiology of T. vivax was less clear, but parasites were detected most frequently in waterbuck. Human infective T. b. rhodesiense were identified for the first time in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and T. brucei s.l. in leopard (Panthera pardus). Variation in infection rates was demonstrated at species level rather than at family or sub-family level. A number of significant risk factors interact to influence infection rates in wildlife including taxonomy, habitat and blood meal preference. Conclusion and Significance: Trypanosoma parasites circulate within a wide and diverse host community in this bio-diverse ecosystem. Consistent land use patterns over the last century have resulted in epidemiological stability, but this may be threatened by the recent influx of people and domesticated livestock into the mid-Luangwa Valley. © 2011 Anderson et al.


St Clair J.,Pieta Research | Campbell-Palmer R.,Animals | Lathe R.,Pieta Research | Lathe R.,Pushchino State University
Twin Research and Human Genetics | Year: 2014

Monozygotic (MZ) twinning is generally considered to be rare in species other than human. We inspected sex ratios in European zoo-bred ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta), revealing a significant excess of same-sex twins. Of 94 pairs, 60 (64%) were either both males or both females (p =.004). Application of the Weinberg differential rule argues that 27% of all twins in this species are MZ pairs. In this protected species, where twinning is commonplace (~50% of newborns are twins), the probable existence of frequent MZ twinning has ramifications for breeding programs aimed to maximize genetic diversity, and suggests that twin studies in a species other than human could have potential as a medical research tool. © The Authors 2014.


PubMed | Animals and Colorado State University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Zoo biology | Year: 2016

Successful pregnancy in African elephants is influenced by biological and environmental factors. For managed elephants many of these factors are set directly or indirectly by their human care takers, including nutrition and husbandry. While African elephants often struggle to conceive and produce healthy offspring under human care, Disneys Animal Kingdom (DAK) has effectively managed six gestations to fruition in three cows. Despite differences between mothers in terms of BW and growth curves during gravidity, each pregnancy successfully resulted in the birth of a healthy calf. Body weight (BW) gain during pregnancy ranged from 245 to 558kg. Obesity in elephants is associated with increased occurrence of dystocia and mortality of the fetus and mother, hence understanding normal weight gains is an integral concept. Diet (dry matter basis) included high levels of fiber throughout pregnancies (60-70% neutral detergent fiber), vitamin E supplementation (116-214mg/kg diet of alpha-tocopherol), as well as low levels of starch (2.5-5.1%) and crude fat (1.9-2.4%). Caretaker directed exercise during pregnancy at DAK served to prevent ventral edema, and increase muscle tone to prepare cows for parturition. Demonstrating techniques for effective care of pregnant females, as well as normal growth curves and fluctuations under ex situ conditions are necessary for future positive outcomes. Ensuring reproductive success through proper husbandry and nutrition are a key to long-term conservation of elephants. Zoo Biol. 35:574-578, 2016. 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


PubMed | Animals
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Zoo biology | Year: 2014

Over the last 25 years, numerous studies have investigated the impact of insect supplementation on insect nutrient content. In light of recent nutrition related challenges with regards to zoo amphibians fed an insect based diet, this review attempts to comprehensively compile both anecdotal and published data in the context of practical application on this topic. Insects, primarily crickets, used for amphibian diets historically demonstrate low concentrations of key nutrients including calcium and vitamin A. Commonly used practices for supplementation involving powder dusting or gut loading have been shown to improve delivery of calcium and vitamin A, though often not reaching desired nutrient concentrations. The large variety of factors influencing insect nutrient content are difficult to control, making study design, and results often inconsistent. Formulation and availability of more effective gut loading diets, combined with a standardized protocol for insect husbandry and dietary management may be the most effective way to supplement insects for use in amphibian feeding programs. Ideally, the nutritional improvement of feeder insects would begin at the breeder level; however, until this becomes a viable choice, we confirm that supplementation of crickets through both gut-loading and dusting appear necessary to support the nutritional health of amphibians and other insectivores in managed collections.


PubMed | Animals
Type: Journal Article | Journal: The veterinary clinics of North America. Exotic animal practice | Year: 2012

Fishes and aquatic invertebrates are highly diverse groups of animals that are well adapted to their aquatic environments. For the past 200 years, researchers have been studying the learning potential of fishes and have shown them to be extensive. By using these animals abilities to learn, caretakers can use operant conditioning with an emphasis on positive reinforcement to train behaviors aiding in dietary management, capture techniques, and medical procedures. Training fishes and aquatic invertebrates can help advance the care and well-being of these species in human care.


PubMed | Pieta Research and Animals
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Twin research and human genetics : the official journal of the International Society for Twin Studies | Year: 2014

Monozygotic (MZ) twinning is generally considered to be rare in species other than human. We inspected sex ratios in European zoo-bred ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta), revealing a significant excess of same-sex twins. Of 94 pairs, 60 (64%) were either both males or both females (p = .004). Application of the Weinberg differential rule argues that 27% of all twins in this species are MZ pairs. In this protected species, where twinning is commonplace (~50% of newborns are twins), the probable existence of frequent MZ twinning has ramifications for breeding programs aimed to maximize genetic diversity, and suggests that twin studies in a species other than human could have potential as a medical research tool.


PubMed | Animals
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of veterinary diagnostic investigation : official publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Inc | Year: 2016

Differences in reported testosterone concentrations in male sea turtle blood samples are common in the veterinary literature, but may be accounted for by differences in sample handling and processing prior to assay. Therefore, our study was performed to determine best practices for testosterone analysis in male sea turtles (Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas). Blood samples were collected into 5 collection tube types, and assay validation and measured testosterone concentrations were compared across different sample storage (fresh, refrigerated 1 week, or frozen), extraction (unextracted or ether-extracted), and processing treatment (untreated, homogenized, or dissociation reagent) conditions. Ether-extracted and dissociation reagent-treated samples validated in all conditions tested and are recommended for use, as unextracted samples validated only if assayed fresh. Dissociation reagent treatment was simpler to perform than ether extraction and resulted in total testosterone concentrations ~2.7-3.5 times greater than free testosterone measured in ether-extracted samples. Sample homogenization did not affect measured testosterone concentrations, and could be used to increase volume in gelled samples. An annual seasonal testosterone increase was observed in both species when ether extraction or dissociation reagent treatment was used. Annual deslorelin implant treatments in a Chelonia mydas male resulted in suppression of seasonal testosterone following the fourth treatment. Seasonal testosterone patterns resumed following discontinuation of deslorelin. Comparison of in-house and commercially available enzyme immunoassay kits revealed similar patterns of seasonal testosterone increases and deslorelin-induced suppression. Our study highlights the importance of methodological validation and provides laboratorians with best practices for testosterone enzyme immunoassay in sea turtles.

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