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Vallejo, CA, United States

Schmitt T.L.,SeaWorld San Diego | Procter D.G.,Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2014

An 11yr-old female Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) demonstrated decreased appetite and weight loss approximately 4 wk after truck transport from a northern California facility to a southern California facility. An initial blood analysis revealed a leukocytosis of 22,800 white blood cells (WBC)/μl, with a left shift, low iron (58 μg/dl), and mild hyperglobulinemia (4.3 g/dl). Empiric antibiotic therapy was started with amoxicillin and clavulanic acid (14 mg/kg p.o. b.i.d.). Clinical improvement was observed initially; however, follow-up blood analysis demonstrated a persistent leukocytosis (24,000 WBC/μl), with left shift and progressive hyperglobulinemia (6.7 mg/dl). As a result of the relapse of clinical signs on antibiotic therapy, aggressive antifungal therapy was initiated with voriconazole (1.8 mg/kg p.o. s.i.d.). Concurrent fungal immunodiffusion antibody assays and complement fixation were repetitively positive for coccidioidomycosis. The walrus improved clinically over the next 3 mo and is currently stable on antifungal therapy at its originating facility in northern California. © American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. Source

Noren S.R.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Udevitz M.S.,U.S. Geological Survey | Triggs L.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | Paschke J.,Six Flags Discovery Kingdom | And 2 more authors.
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2015

Pacific walruses may be unable to meet caloric requirements in the changing Arctic ecosystem, which could affect body condition and have population-level consequences. Body condition has historically been monitored by measuring blubber thickness over the xiphoid process (sternum). This may be an unreliable condition index because blubber at other sites along the body may be preferentially targeted to balance energetic demands. Animals in aquaria provided an opportunity for controlled study of how blubber topography is altered by caloric intake. Morphology, body mass, blubber thickness (21 sites), and caloric intake of five mature, nonpregnant, nonlactating female walruses were measured monthly (12 month minimum). Body condition (mass × standard length-1) was described by a model that included caloric intake and a seasonal effect, and scaled positively with estimates of total blubber mass. Blubber thicknesses (1.91-10.69 cm) varied topographically and were similar to values reported for free-ranging female walruses. Body condition was most closely related to blubber thickness measured dorsomedially in the region of the anterior insertion of the pectoral flippers (shoulders); sternum blubber thickness was a relatively poor indicator of condition. This study demonstrates the importance of validating condition metrics before using them to monitor free-ranging populations. © Published 2014. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Source

Fravel V.A.,Six Flags Discovery Kingdom | Lowenstine L.J.,University of California at Davis | Koehne A.,University of California at Davis
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms | Year: 2016

A wild-born, captive-reared, 14 yr old, primiparous female California sea lion Zalophus californianus presented for anorexia of 14 d duration and abdominal distention. Routine complete blood cell count revealed leukocytosis with a neutrophilia, and serum chemistry revealed hypoalbumenemia and hyponatremia. Treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories were started, but the animal continued to decline. Abdominal radiographs revealed a mature mineralized fetal skull and spine in the caudal abdomen and abdominal ultrasound revealed ascites but could not confirm the fetus. The patient was taken to surgery where a full term fetus was found outside of the uterus but within the fetal membranes, representing a secondary ectopic pregnancy. The patient passed away during surgery and was taken to necropsy. Gross necropsy revealed a diffuse peritonitis with yellow deposits over the serosal surfaces of the abdominal organs. The uterus appeared intact grossly and the ovaries appeared abnormal. The mesenteric, renal, and sub-lumbar nodes were enlarged and edematous. Histopathology revealed choriocarcinoma in the right uterine horn with evidence of chronic uterine rupture and protrusion of the placental tissue into the abdomen. The choriocarcinoma had metastasized locally as well as to the liver, spleen and lung. Choriocarcinoma is a highly malignant trophoblastic neoplasm that is rare in domestic animals. This case represents, to the authors' knowledge, the first report of gestational choriocarcinoma causing secondary ectopic pregnancy in a California sea lion and presents questions regarding pregnancy monitoring and management in a population of captive, minimally trained California sea lions. © Inter-Research 2016, www.int-res.com. Source

Dunkin R.C.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Wilson D.,Wildlife Safari | Way N.,Six Flags Discovery Kingdom | Johnson K.,Have Trunk Will Travel | Williams T.M.,University of California at Santa Cruz
Journal of Experimental Biology | Year: 2013

Elephant movement patterns in relation to surface water demonstrate that they are a water-dependent species. Thus, there has been interest in using surface water management to mitigate problems associated with localized elephant overabundance. However, the physiological mechanisms underlying the elephant's water dependence remain unclear. Although thermoregulation is likely an important driver, the relationship between thermoregulation, water use and climate has not been quantified. We measured skin surface temperature of and cutaneous water loss from 13 elephants (seven African, 3768±642?kg; six Asian, 3834±498kg) and determined the contribution of evaporative cooling to their thermal and water budgets across a range of air temperatures (8-33°C). We also measured respiratory evaporative water loss and resting metabolic heat production on a subset of elephants (N=7). The rate of cutaneous evaporative water loss ranged between 0.31 and 8.9?g?min-1?m-2 for Asian elephants and 0.26 and 6.5gmin-1m-2 for African elephants. Simulated thermal and water budgets using climate data from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and Okaukuejo, Namibia, suggested that the 24-h evaporative cooling water debt incurred in warm climates can be more than 4.5 times that incurred in mesic climates. This study confirms elephants are obligate evaporative coolers but suggests that classification of elephants as water dependent is insufficient given the importance of climate in determining the magnitude of this dependence. These data highlight the potential for a physiological modeling approach to predicting the utility of surface water management for specific populations. © 2013. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Source

Clark F.E.,Lane College | Clark F.E.,UK Institute of Zoology | Davies S.L.,Lane College | Madigan A.W.,Six Flags Discovery Kingdom | And 2 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2013

Cognitive enrichment is gaining popularity as a tool to enhance captive animal well-being, but research on captive cetaceans is lacking. Dolphin cognition has been studied intensively since the 1950s, and several hundred bottlenose dolphins are housed in major zoos and aquaria worldwide, but most dolphin enrichment consists of simple floating objects. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a novel, underwater maze device (UMD) was cognitively enriching for one group of male and one group of female dolphins at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, CA. The dolphin's task was to navigate a rubber ball through a maze of pipes, towards an exit pipe. We also tested a modification where an edible gelatine ball fell into the pool once the UMD was solved. The UMD was provided to each group between 8 and 11 times over a 4-week period. Male dolphins used the UMD without prior training, whereas females did not use the UMD at all. Two male dolphins solved the UMD 17 times, using a variety of problem-solving strategies. The UMD had no significant effect on circular (repetitive) swimming patterns, but males spent significantly more time underwater when the UMD was present. Males used the UMD significantly more when it contained the rubber ball, but the gelatine ball stimulated social play. The UMD is a safe and practical device for captive dolphins. It now requires further testing on other dolphins, particularly females, to in order to examine whether the sex differences we observed are a general phenomenon. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source

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