Australia Zoo

Beerwah, Australia

Australia Zoo

Beerwah, Australia
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Dwyer R.G.,University of Queensland | Campbell H.A.,University of Queensland | Campbell H.A.,University of New England of Australia | Irwin T.R.,Australia Zoo | Franklin C.E.,University of Queensland
Marine and Freshwater Research | Year: 2015

Underwater passive acoustic (PA) telemetry is becoming the preferred technology for investigating animal movement in aquatic systems; however, much of the current statistical tools for telemetry data were established from global positioning system (GPS)-based data. To understand the appropriateness of these tools for PA telemetry, we dual-tagged free-ranging aquatic animals that exist at the air-water interface (Crocodylus porosus, n≤14). The location of each animal was simultaneously recorded over a 3-month period by fixed acoustic receivers and satellite positioning. Estimates of minimum travel distance and home range (HR) were then calculated from the PA and GPS datasets. The study revealed significant disparity between telemetry technologies in estimates of minimum travel distance and HR size. Of the five HR measures investigated, the linear distance measure produced the most comparable estimates of HR size and overlap. The kernel utilisation distribution with a reference smoothing parameter function and ad hoc function, however, produced comparable estimates when raw acoustic detections were grouped into periods when animals were within and between receiver detection fields. The study offers guidelines on how to improve the accuracy and precision of space-use estimates from PA telemetry, even in receiver arrangements with large areas of non-detection. © 2015 CSIRO.


Parnell T.,Griffith University | Narayan E.J.,Griffith University | Magrath M.J.L.,Wildlife Conservation and Science | Roe S.,Wildlife Conservation and Science | And 5 more authors.
Conservation Physiology | Year: 2014

Glucocorticoid quantification using non-invasive methods provides a powerful tool for assessing the health and welfare of wildlife in zoo-based programmes. In this study, we provide baseline data on faecal-based glucocorticoid (cortisol) monitoring of Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae) managed at the Melbourne Zoo in Victoria, Australia. We sampled five tigers daily for 60 days. Faecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) in tiger faecal extracts were quantified using enzyme immunoassays that were successfully validated using parallelism and accuracy recovery checks. Two female tigers had significantly higher mean FCM levels than the two males and another female, suggesting that females may have higher FCM levels. A significant elevation was noted in the FCM levels for one female 2 days after she was darted and anaesthetized; however, the FCM levels returned to baseline levels within 3 days after the event. Comparative analysis of FCM levels of tigers sampled at Melbourne Zoo with tigers sampled earlier at two other Australian Zoos (Dreamworld Themepark and Australia Zoo) showed that FCM levels varied between zoos. Differences in the enclosure characteristics, timing of sampling, size and composition of groupings and training procedures could all contribute to this variation. Overall, we recommend the use of non-invasive sampling for the assessment of adrenocortical activity of felids managed in zoos in Australia and internationally in order to improve the welfare of these charismatic big cats. © The Author 2014.


PubMed | Griffith University, Wildlife Conservation and Science, Dreamworld and Australia Zoo
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Conservation physiology | Year: 2016

Glucocorticoid quantification using non-invasive methods provides a powerful tool for assessing the health and welfare of wildlife in zoo-based programmes. In this study, we provide baseline data on faecal-based glucocorticoid (cortisol) monitoring of Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae) managed at the Melbourne Zoo in Victoria, Australia. We sampled five tigers daily for 60days. Faecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) in tiger faecal extracts were quantified using enzyme immunoassays that were successfully validated using parallelism and accuracy recovery checks. Two female tigers had significantly higher mean FCM levels than the two males and another female, suggesting that females may have higher FCM levels. A significant elevation was noted in the FCM levels for one female 2days after she was darted and anaesthetized; however, the FCM levels returned to baseline levels within 3days after the event. Comparative analysis of FCM levels of tigers sampled at Melbourne Zoo with tigers sampled earlier at two other Australian Zoos (Dreamworld Themepark and Australia Zoo) showed that FCM levels varied between zoos. Differences in the enclosure characteristics, timing of sampling, size and composition of groupings and training procedures could all contribute to this variation. Overall, we recommend the use of non-invasive sampling for the assessment of adrenocortical activity of felids managed in zoos in Australia and internationally in order to improve the welfare of these charismatic big cats.


News Article | November 20, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Australia Zoo’s Terri Irwin has called on all Queensland MPs to rule out a crocodile cull, saying people need to better understand how to co-exist with the apex predators. The debate on a cull was reignited in May when a New South Wales woman, Cindy Waldron, 46, was taken by a croc at Thornton Beach, north of Cairns. Among those leading the charge was the federal MP Bob Katter, who said shooting safaris would reduce the “unprecedented” population. Liberal National MPs Jason Costigan and Dr Christian Rowan have expressed support for a conversation about the practice, however Irwin says science doesn’t support it. “Crocodiles are an apex predator and crucial to the ecosystem, keeping water ways and wetlands healthy,” she said. “Crocodiles eradicate the weak, sick and injured wildlife, leaving only the healthy to prosper.” She said her late husband, Steve Irwin, had always encouraged an appreciation for the reptiles. “It is much better to educate people about croc safety than destroy one of our tourism icons,” she said. The environment minister, Dr Steven Miles – who last week labelled Costigan a “nut job” in parliament for his comments – demanded the LNP leader, Tim Nicholls, reveal his party’s position. “I call on him to finally grow a spine, and rule out a cull,” he said. The state government allocated $5.8m over three years for crocodile management after Waldon’s death and admitted there was not enough scientific certainty about whether numbers were rising or falling. Dr Laurence Taplin, who conducted a statewide croc survey in the late 1980s and is assisting with a new survey, said a science-based approach was needed to inform croc management. “The current debate echoes similar controversies in the late 1980s,” Taplin said. “The science we did back then showed clearly there was a great gulf between anecdotal claims of exploding crocodile populations around Queensland and the reality on the ground.” Nearly 50 crocodiles have been removed from the Cairns region so far this year.


News Article | November 12, 2015
Site: www.techtimes.com

Speartooth sharks, one of the world's most rare shark species, were discovered in 1982 in Bizant River, Australia. For decades, the elusive sharks have succeeded in evading scientists until recently when researchers from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) captured and tagged two adult speartooth sharks for research. The historic capture took place in the Wenlock River, located at Queensland's Cape York Peninsula. It was the first time live specimens of adult speartooth sharks were recorded in history around the world. "From a conservation perspective it's really important to know where these adults are. They're a species that's listed as critically endangered so it's important to know what threats the adults might face," said Dr. Richard Pillans, CSIRO researcher. The CSIRO and Australia Zoo research team looked into prior research done on the speartooth sharks' life cycle, which led them to Wenlock River where they searched for adult females who are due to visit the river's mouth as they give birth. After nine days of waiting, the team consisting of Dr. Pillans, Luke Burnett and Barry Lyon from the Australia Zoo caught two adult specimens, one male and one female. Pillans explained that the mating and birthing areas are often the same as it is a convenient place to meet. The female speartooth shark measures 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) in length while its male counterpart measures 2.3 meters (7.5 feet). The two sharks were marked with satellite tags which will automatically disengage after two months. The tags will provide the research team with details on the sharks' movements, water depth and temperature. All these will help the scientific community to finally shed light on the species' habitat preferences and potential threats to their survival. Often mistaken for the bull sharks, the speartooth sharks have distinct a dark gray backside color and a second back fin. Aptly named, this shark species' lower jaw bears spear-like teeth. Scientists believe that the female speartooth sharks give birth to their young at the mouth of several rivers in northern Australia. Their young are fully independent and are capable of moving upstream, approximately between 40 to 80 kilometers (25 to 50 miles) from the river's mouth where the water's saline level is lower. The young speartooth sharks are believed to stay there for the next three to six years but during the annual monsoon, they swim downstream and return when the water's salinity level returns to normal.


Campbell H.A.,University of Queensland | Watts M.E.,University of Queensland | Sullivan S.,Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service | Read M.A.,Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Animal Ecology | Year: 2010

1. The estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is the world's largest living reptile. It predominately inhabits freshwater and estuarine habitats, but widespread geographic distribution throughout oceanic islands of the South-east Pacific suggests that individuals undertake sizeable ocean voyages. 2. Here we show that adult C. porosus adopt behavioural strategies to utilise surface water currents during long-distance travel, enabling them to move quickly and efficiently over considerable distances. 3. We used acoustic telemetry to monitor crocodile movement throughout 63 km of river, and found that when individuals engaged in a long-distance, constant direction journey (>10 km day -1), they would only travel when current flow direction was favourable. Depth and temperature measurements from implanted transmitters showed that they remained at the water surface during travel but would dive to the river substratum or climb out on the river bank if current flow direction became unfavourable. 4. Satellite positional fixes from tagged crocodiles engaged in ocean travel were overlaid with residual surface current (RSC) estimates. The data showed a strong correlation existed between the bearing of the RSC and that of the travelling crocodile (r 2 = 0Æ92, P < 0Æ0001). 5. The study demonstrates that C. porosus dramatically increase their travel potential by riding surface currents, providing an effective dispersal strategy for this species.


Narayan E.J.,Griffith University | Parnell T.,Griffith University | Clark G.,Australia Zoo | Martin-Vegue P.,Dreamworld | And 2 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2013

The tiger (Panthera tigris) faces a great risk of extinction as its wild numbers have plummeted due to poaching and habitat destruction so ex-situ conservation programs are becoming ever more necessary. Reliable non-invasive biomarkers of the stress hormone (cortisol) are necessary for assessing the health and welfare of tigers in captivity. To our knowledge, non-invasive stress endocrinology methods have not been tested as widely in tigers. The first aim of this study was to describe and validate a faecal cortisol metabolite enzyme-immmunoassay (FCM EIA) for two tiger sub-species, the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) and the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae). Individual tigers (n= 22) were studied in two large Zoos in Queensland, Australia (Dreamworld Theme Park and Australia Zoo). Fresh faecal samples (<12. h old) were collected each morning from both Zoos over a study period of 21. days. Biological validation was conducted separately by collecting feces 5. days before and 5. days after blood was taken from four male and five female tigers. Results showed that mean FCM levels increased by 138% and 285% in the male and female tigers within 1. day after bloods were taken, returning to baseline in 5. days. Laboratory validations of the FCM EIA were done using an extraction efficiency test and parallelism. Results showed >89% recovery of the cortisol standard that was added to tiger faecal extract. We also obtained parallel displacement of the serially diluted cortisol standard against serially diluted tiger faecal extract. Our second aim was to determine whether the FCM levels were significantly different between tiger sub-species and sex. Results showed no significant difference in mean FCM levels between the Bengal and Sumatran tiger sub-species. Mean levels of FCMs were significantly higher in females than in male tigers. Those male and female tigers with reported health issues during the study period expressed higher FCM levels than the reportedly healthy tigers. Interestingly, those tigers that took part in some activity (such as walks, photos, presentations and guest feeds) expressed moderately higher FCM levels at Dreamworld and lower FCM levels at Australia Zoo in comparison to those tigers that did not take part in such activities. These results indicate potential habituation in some tigers for routine activity through specialized training and pre-conditioning. In conclusion, the FCM EIA described in this study provides a reliable non-invasive method for evaluating the stress status of tigers in Zoos. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.


Portas T.J.,Australia Zoo
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2010

Toxoplasmosis is a well-described disease entity that causes significant morbidity and mortality in both captive and free-ranging macropodids. The clinical presentation of toxoplasmosis in macropodids is variable, which reflects the multiple body systems affected by this disease. Animals may die without exhibiting premonitory signs or after the acute development of nonspecific signs of illness. In more chronic cases, clinical signs include neurologic deficits, blindness, respiratory signs, and, in some cases, diarrhea. Histologic lesions can be extensive and affect the pulmonary parenchyma, cardiac and skeletal muscle, lymph nodes, spleen, gastrointestinal tract, adrenal glands, pancreas, central nervous system, liver, and kidney. An antemortem diagnosis can be challenging, although a range of serologic tests are available. Treatment is frequently unrewarding, although recent evidence suggests that the anti-protozoal drug atovaquone may be effective in treating acute cases and eliminating infection. Attempts to vaccinate macropodids against toxoplasmosis have been unsuccessful, and preventive measures are limited to preventing exposure to sporulated oocysts in the environment. Copyright 2010 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.


Campbell H.A.,University of Queensland | Dwyer R.G.,University of Queensland | Irwin T.R.,Australia Zoo | Franklin C.E.,University of Queensland
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is the apex-predator in waterways and coastlines throughout south-east Asia and Australasia. C. porosus pose a potential risk to humans, and management strategies are implemented to control their movement and distribution. Here we used GPS-based telemetry to accurately record geographical location of adult C. porosus during the breeding and nesting season. The purpose of the study was to assess how C. porosus movement and distribution may be influenced by localised social conditions. During breeding, the females (2.92±0.013 metres total length (TL), mean ± S.E., n = 4) occupied an area<1 km length of river, but to nest they travelled up to 54 km away from the breeding area. All tagged male C. porosus sustained high rates of movement (6.49±0.9 km d-1; n = 8) during the breeding and nesting period. The orientation of the daily movements differed between individuals revealing two discontinuous behavioural strategies. Five tagged male C. porosus (4.17±0.14 m TL) exhibited a 'site-fidelic' strategy and moved within well-defined zones around the female home range areas. In contrast, three males (3.81±0.08 m TL) exhibited 'nomadic' behaviour where they travelled continually throughout hundreds of kilometres of waterway. We argue that the 'site-fidelic' males patrolled territories around the female home ranges to maximise reproductive success, whilst the 'nomadic' males were subordinate animals that were forced to range over a far greater area in search of unguarded females. We conclude that C. porosus are highly mobile animals existing within a complex social system, and mate/con-specific interactions are likely to have a profound effect upon population density and distribution, and an individual's travel potential. We recommend that impacts on socio-spatial behaviour are considered prior to the implementation of management interventions. © 2013 Campbell et al.


News Article | November 12, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

English poet Michael Ashby has just achieved 1,200,000+ million Facebook Likes, Loves & Wows for his remembrance poem “I Am Not Gone” on his “Death, Funeral, Bereavement Poems” facebook page showing how this poem has comforted the bereaved around the globe. Michael wrote “I Am Not Gone" in 2006 after watching a TV report of Bindi Irwin addressing the public memorial service for her father Steve Irwin- the world famous conservationist and TV personality “Crocodile Hunter”- at Australia Zoo's Crocoseum. In the elusive quest for sleep that followed Michael asked himself "what words of comfort could anyone of us offer our loved ones?"... and the words of his poem ”I Am Not Gone” answered. A few months later a dear friend and neighbour passed away, and Michael gave a copy of this poem to his widow Joan. On finding his poem had comforted her and that she had hand copied it to local & New Zealand family he realised that his remembrance poem should be shared on the web and his website thefuneralpoem.com and subsequently this Facebook Page were born… & more funeral poems were delivered … over 50 to date by Michael. This week, 66 year old Michael said “I am deeply moved by how many people around the globe have had their lives touched and comforted by my poem of love and remembrance from Sidmouth. I am extremely proud that my facebook post is providing a global platform for sharing personal bereavement and funeral poems. My thoughts at the moment are on this weekend and the "Remembrance Sunday" poem I wrote and posted on facebook last year after watching the brutal war film ‘Kajaki: The True Story’…" Find out more at my Facebook page and website. ABOUT English poet Michael Ashby has touched lives in over 172 countries with his poems on thefuneralpoem.com and is now reaching millions with his Facebook Page “Death, Funeral, Bereavement Poems" . He has two poetry books published “Alchemy” & “Funeral Poems” both available in paperback & Kindle on amazon.com. Grandpa Michael is fortunate to live with his poems in South West England on Devon’s spectacular Jurassic coast. Some nights he is awoken by the sounds of an argument between the sea and the local pebble beach coming in through his bedroom window. He's not sure who starts it, but they always settle in the end. He spends part of each day gazing out to sea, waiting for his next poem to appear on the horizon.

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