News Article | May 10, 2017
Marrow is tasty. I realize that’s a matter of personal taste, but, as far as the fossil and archaeological records show, our early human predecessors were fans of the soft and savory tissue. The nutritious content of a zebra or antelope was not constrained to flesh or viscera alone. Paleoanthropologists have been pointing out for decades that there was plenty of protein wrapped up in bones that could be pounded open with stone tools. The broken bones these mealtime efforts left behind help anthropologists track human dining habits over the years. But here’s the rub. What we learned to do through culture, spotted hyenas evolved to do with their jaws. In fact, hyenas and humans often showed up at the same carcasses, both parties licking their chops. So given that prehistoric hominins and hyenas both were capable of cracking bones, how can we tell who showed up for dinner from the piles of osteological fragments they left behind? Pounding open a long bone with a hammerstone would have been all in a day’s work for a prehistoric human, but, for researchers trying to understand the past, replaying such moments takes great precision and care. That’s what anthropologist Reed Coil and colleagues tried to get their heads around in a new study comparing stone tool damage on mammal bones with the marks created by spotted hyenas. Conducting the study required some hands-on research. “We conducted bone breaking experiments using two different methods,” Coil and coauthors write, “breaking bones with a hammerstone on an anvil and feeding bones to a spotted hyena.” The result was an assemblage of farm-raised elk bones broken by both tools and teeth. Despite the very different methods of osteological destruction, though, the fracture patterns came out looking very similar. When looking at breaks alone, Coil and colleagues found little difference between the damage created by hammerstones and those made by the very lucky spotted hyena at the Milwaukee County Zoo who got to participate in the experiment. Looking at the artificially-created assemblage, the hyena created more oblique fractures with angles further than 90 degrees than the hammerstones. A single bone wouldn’t be able to show you the difference, but, say, if you were looking at a cave floor full of broken bones, the result might help distinguish between humans and hyenas as the osteological accumulators. Overall, though, the characteristics of the bones themselves were more important to how they fractured. We use the word “bone” both for the tissue and for entire elements, and while the tissue remains the same the traits of the tissue vary with size, age, anatomy, and species. The femur of a horse will break differently than that of an antelope, and a humerus will break different than a scapula will. In the case of the elk bones, breaks on the same element by tools or teeth were nearly indistinguishable. Whether being assaulted by hyenas or hammerstones, the bones themselves determine how they break. This post was supported by my generous backers on Patreon. For details on how you can get an early view of new blog posts and exclusive natural history essays, click here. Coil, R., Tappen, M., Yezzi-Woodley, K. 2017. New analytical methods for comparing bone fracture angles: a controlled study of hammerstone and hyena (Crocuta crocuta) long bone breakage. Archaeometry. Doi: 10.1111/arcm.12285
Drews B.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research |
Harmann L.M.,Medical College of Wisconsin |
Beehler L.L.,Milwaukee County Zoo |
Bell B.,Milwaukee County Zoo |
And 2 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2011
The bonobo, Pan paniscus, is one of the most endangered primate species. In the context of the Bonobo Species Survival Plan®, the Milwaukee County Zoo established a successful breeding group. Although the bonobo serves as a model species for human evolution, no prenatal growth curves are available. To develop growth graphs, the animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo were trained by positive reinforcement to allow for ultrasound exams without restraint. With this method, the well being of mother and fetus were maintained and ultrasound exams could be performed frequently. The ovulation date of the four animals in the study was determined exactly so that gestational age was known for each examination. Measurements of biparietal diameter (BPD), head circumference (HC), abdominal circumference (AC), and femur length (FL) were used to create growth curves. Prenatal growth of P. paniscus was compared with the data of humans and the common chimpanzee, P. troglodytes. With respect to cranial structures, such as BPD and HC, humans have significant acceleration of growth compared with P. paniscus and P. troglodytes. In P. paniscus, growth of AC was similar to HC throughout pregnancy, whereas in humans AC only reaches the level of HC close to term. Growth rate of FL was similar in humans and the two Pan species until near day 180 post-ovulation. After that, the Pan species FL growth slowed compared with human FL. The newly developed fetal growth curves of P. paniscus will assist in monitoring prenatal development and predicting birth dates of this highly endangered species. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Grilo M.L.,The Interdisciplinary Center |
Grilo M.L.,University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover |
Vanstreels R.E.T.,University of Sao Paulo |
Wallace R.,Milwaukee County Zoo |
And 5 more authors.
Avian Pathology | Year: 2016
ABSTRACT: Avian malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by protozoans of the genus Plasmodium, and it is considered one of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality in captive penguins, both in zoological gardens and rehabilitation centres. Penguins are known to be highly susceptible to this disease, and outbreaks have been associated with mortality as high as 50–80% of affected captive populations within a few weeks. The disease has also been reported in wild penguin populations, however, its impacts on the health and fitness of penguins in the wild is not clear. This review provides an overview of the aetiology, life cycle and epidemiology of avian malaria, and provides details on the strategies that can be employed for the diagnostic, treatment and prevention of this disease in captive penguins, discussing possible directions for future research. © 2016 Houghton Trust Ltd.
Goldberg T.L.,University of Wisconsin - Madison |
Goldberg T.L.,Wisconsin National Primate Research Center |
Gendron-Fitzpatrick A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison |
Deering K.M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison |
And 7 more authors.
Emerging Infectious Diseases | Year: 2014
A captive juvenile Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) died from an unknown disseminated parasitic infection. Deep sequencing of DNA from infected tissues, followed by gene-specific PCR and sequencing, revealed a divergent species within the newly proposed genus Versteria (Cestoda: Taeniidae). Versteria may represent a previously unrecognized risk to primate health.
News Article | November 2, 2016
Superior Recreational Products (SRP), a leading manufacturer of recreational products, releases an in-depth case study on the design and implementation of three new exhibit shades at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Due to a recent change in accreditation standards set forth by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), facilities are required to provide sufficient shade, either naturally or artificially, so that animals who are kept outdoors can protect themselves from direct sunlight. In order to maintain existing certification from the AZA, the Milwaukee County Zoo sought out the help of New Berlin-based Superior Partner GMB & Associates to begin a phased project to include artificial shade in their African Elephant, Harbor Seal, and Polar Bear exhibits. “Designing something custom and site specific for an end user is always a fun and exciting process that allows us to match our custom capabilities with the customer’s needs. The Milwaukee County Zoo project is a great example of putting together a turnkey project to meet the shade needs of these beautiful animals,” Brent Derbecker, SRP’s Shade and Shelter Brand Manager, said. The case study gives an in-depth look into the customer’s journey of this process. It discusses the customer’s needs and wants for the new shades, the design process, installation, and the impact it had on their AZA accreditation. To access the case study, visit our website at srpshade.com or click here. Superior Recreational Products is a manufacturer and supplier of playgrounds, shade, shelter, and site amenities. Our products create and provide joy for communities just like yours. Together, we can create a space where people can play, relax, and live.
PubMed | Milwaukee County Zoo, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Reproductive Management Center and Busch Gardens Tampa
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Zoo biology | Year: 2016
Contraception is an essential tool in reproductive management of captive species. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Reproductive Management Center (RMC) gathers data on contraception use and provides recommendations. Although apes have been given oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) for at least 30 years, there have been no published reports with basic information on why the pill is administered, formulations and brands used, and effects on physiology and behavior. Here, we report survey results characterizing OCP use in bonobos (Pan paniscus) housed in North American zoos, as well as information accumulated in the RMCs Contraception Database. Of 26 females treated, there have been no failures and nine reversals. The most commonly administered OCP formulation in bonobos contained ethinyl estradiol (EE) 35g/norethindrone 1mg. Few females on combined oral contraceptives (COCs) were given a continuous active pill regimen; a hormone-free interval of at least 5 days was allowed in most. Crushing the pill and mixing with juice or food was common. Females on COCs seldom experienced breakthrough estrus or bleeding, while these conditions were sometimes observed for females on continuous COCs. All females on COCs exhibited some degree of perineal swelling, with a mean score of 3 or 3+ most commonly reported. Behavioral changes included less sexual behavior, dominant females becoming subordinate, and a negative effect on mood. No appreciable change in weight was noted. Taken together, these results indicate that OCPs are an effective and reversible contraceptive option for bonobos that can be used by zoos and sanctuaries to limit reproduction. Zoo Biol. 35:444-453, 2016. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Wallace R.S.,Milwaukee County Zoo |
Araya B.,Calle Lima 193
Marine Ornithology | Year: 2015
We conducted annual counts of moulting Humboldt Penguins roosting on the mainland coast and on offshore islands in north and central Chile during 1999–2008. The census area included the known major breeding colonies in Chile, where many penguins moult, as well as other sites. Population size was relatively stable across years, with an average of 33 384 SD 2 372 (range: 28 642–35 284) penguins counted, but the number of penguins found at any individual site could vary widely. Shifting penguin numbers suggest that penguins tend to aggregate to moult where food is abundant. While many of the major breeding sites are afforded some form of protected status, two sites with sizable penguin populations, Tilgo Island and Pájaros-1 Island, have no official protection. These census results provide a basis upon which future population trends can be compared. © 2015, Marine Ornithology. All rights reserved.
Keller D.L.,University of Wisconsin - Madison |
Ellison M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison |
Clyde V.L.,Milwaukee County Zoo |
Wallace R.S.,Milwaukee County Zoo
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2012
Two sibling male castrated gray wolves (Canis lupus) developed acute onset right forelimb lameness, one at 8 and the other at 11 yr of age. In both cases, the right carpus was swollen, carpal hyperextension was notable, and the wolves exhibited significant intermittent lameness of the affected limb. Radiographs revealed right accessory carpal bone luxation in both cases, with type III fracture of the accessory carpal bone in one wolf. Although carpal bone luxation in domestic dogs is frequently treated surgically, conservative medical management resolved the lameness in both wolves with no further complications. Copyright © 2012 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.
PubMed | Milwaukee County Zoo
Type: Case Reports | Journal: Journal of zoo and wildlife medicine : official publication of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians | Year: 2012
Phenobarbital has been the primary antiepileptic drug used in primates, but the dosage required for seizure control is frequently associated with significant side effects. Newer antiepileptic drugs and adjunctive therapies currently being used in human medicine provide additional options for treatment of nonhuman primates. This report describes different drug regimes used for control of epileptic seizures in apes at the Milwaukee County Zoo (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.), including the addition of acetazolamide to phenobarbital, levetiracetam, carbamazepine, and the use of extended cycle oral contraceptives to assist seizure control in female apes with catamenial epilepsy.
News Article | March 16, 2016
Earlier, he had growled at the Milwaukee County Zoo's other tigers. While human zookeepers could only guess, his furry striped compatriots knew exactly what he was saying. And it was all captured on a small recorder with a microphone pointed toward the zoo's new male tiger, who arrived in Milwaukee two months ago from the Toledo Zoo. Chuffs, roars, growls and whines - they all mean something in Strannik's vocabulary as well as in the voices of Milwaukee's three female tigers, Amba, Tula and Nuri. The recordings of their sounds will be used by researchers to more accurately count the endangered animal in the wild. "As zookeepers, we want to have an impact on the wild population, but there's not a lot we can do for animals in the wild," said Amanda Ista, a zookeeper in the Milwaukee zoo's Florence Mila Borchert Big Cat Country. "With this project, though, we can have an impact." The Milwaukee zoo is joining other American zoos participating in the Prusten Project, which collects recordings of captive tigers in an effort to determine vocal fingerprints of individual animals. Researchers hope to use the information to build a computer program that will identify specific tigers in the wild for a better census of the majestic but often elusive animals. The idea is to place the same recorders that are being used at the Milwaukee zoo in India and Sumatra to eavesdrop on tigers and figure out how many are still living in the wild. Sort of like a telephone party line in the jungle. Prusten Project executive director Courtney Dunn was an intern at the National Tiger Sanctuary in Saddlebrooke, Mo., in 2011 when she met a very vocal tiger known for her strange sounds. Dunn began to wonder if tiger sounds could help save the species just as the Whalesong Project has helped whales. For her master's thesis, Dunn studied how tiger vocalizations can be used to identify individual animals. By using a software program that turns sounds into visual spectrograms and noting the exact frequency at which a tiger's vocal cords vibrate, Dunn can determine a tiger's gender with a high degree of accuracy. Her research focused on tigers' long calls, a very deep roar that can carry as far as three miles and which is mainly used for mating and marking territory. Dunn learned that female tigers are easier to identify individually because they have a wider variety of vocalizations. "Males sound similar. They're unique in that you can tell individuals apart, but their vocalization frequency ranges are very similar," Dunn said in a phone interview. "Maybe the ladies over the years have chosen partners because of their vocal ranges. It might pinpoint certain characteristics that make them an ideal mate." Recorders cost $600 to $900 each plus shipping, and the nonprofit Prusten Project relies on donations, research grants and fundraising. Dunn, who was recently accepted into a Ph.D. program in quantitative biology at the University of Texas at Arlington, plans to travel to Sumatra later this year or next year to set up recorders in the wild. In the meantime, Dunn and volunteers are listening to recordings made of approximately 50 tigers at 15 zoos in the United States, including Milwaukee, the only zoo in the Midwest that is participating. Other zoos in the U.S. have offered to participate and are waiting until a recorder can be sent. Milwaukee zookeepers learned of the Prusten Project a few years ago and waited to request a recorder until the arrival of Strannik, whose name means pilgrim or wanderer in Russian. The Milwaukee Zoo hasn't had a male tiger for a number of years, and officials are hoping Strannik, who is toward the end of his mating years and has sired three litters, will pair with Amba, who has produced a couple of litters, including her daughters Tula and Nuri, said Katie Kuhn, big cat area supervisor. Kuhn worked at Utah's Hogle Zoo when Strannik was born there 13 years ago. Zookeepers are gradually introducing Strannik to his fellow tigers in Milwaukee. Before they even set eyes on him, the female tigers knew of his arrival. While he was in quarantine, Strannik could be heard roaring from the other side of the zoo. As he sat in an enclosure not accessible to the public last week, he and the human zookeepers could hear Tula and Nuri. They were pounding on the other side of a metal door with their paws. Strannik appeared to take no notice, probably because it was meal time. "He's very talkative. He's actually very laid back as tigers go," said Ista, as she sprinkled scents that Strannik finds attractive - allspice, apple pie spices and cloves - in his compartment. Ista held her hand up and called "open" - prompting Strannik to open his mouth and gulp down his breakfast, the tiger's big pink tongue curling around the ground beef and making a chuffing sound of contentment. Then it was time for Strannik to head into the indoor observation area as families and kids excitedly pointed at the massive cat and snapped his picture with their cellphones. Explore further: Rare Sumatran tiger gives birth to three cubs