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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.


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE:SIX), the world’s largest regional theme park company, now holds the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for the Most couples kissing under the mistletoe. The record was broken by 1,678 people at seven Six Flags locations during Holiday in the Park®, the company’s annual wintertime celebration. 839 couples joined hands and kissed for at least 10 seconds under romantic sprigs of live mistletoe provided by Mistletoeing.com to break the previous world record, set by Six Flags Over Georgia in 2015. “Holiday in the Park is a beloved family tradition and what better way to ring in the holidays than kisses under the mistletoe,” said Tom Iven, Six Flags Senior Vice President of U.S. park operations. “Six Flags is home to a long list of record-breaking roller coasters and now we have a brand new record to kiss and tell about.” The parks participating in the mistletoe event were Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags St Louis. “Six Flags really outdid itself this year by making history and celebrating the holidays by bringing people together from coast to coast to set a new world record for the most couples kissing under the mistletoe,” said Christina Conlon, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Adjudicator. Holiday in the Park at Six Flags features millions of dazzling light displays, holiday-themed entertainment, seasonal menu offerings and thrilling roller coasters, rides and attractions. For Holiday in the Park operating hours, visit www.sixflags.com. Images and b-roll of the mistletoe event, can be found here: https://sixflags.box.com/v/MistletoeRecord16 Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is the world’s largest regional theme park company with $1.3 billion in revenue and 18 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada. For 55 years, Six Flags has entertained millions of families with world-class coasters, themed rides, thrilling water parks and unique attractions. For more information, visit www.sixflags.com. Holiday in the Park® is a registered trademark of Six Flags Theme Parks Inc. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/sixflags


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Tis the season for thrilling roller coasters, millions of dazzling LED lights, and kisses under the mistletoe as Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE:SIX), the world’s largest regional theme park company, kicks off its annual holiday spectacular, Holiday in the Park®. This year, the event is expanding to two more parks - Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka, Missouri, and Six Flags America, near Washington D.C. Now in its 31st season, Holiday in the Park is a treasured holiday tradition featuring intricately-themed lighting displays, holiday entertainment and an expansive selection of specialty food offerings guaranteed to make the season merry and bright for every member of the family. Holiday in the Park is also celebrated at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom near San Francisco, Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta, Six Flags Magic Mountain, north of Los Angeles, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey and Six Flags Mexico. This year, guests at seven of those parks will have the chance to break a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for Most couples kissing under the mistletoe. Six Flags Over Georgia holds the current record at 201 couples, set in 2015. “Our guests tell us that Holiday in the Park is one of their favorite times of the year to visit with family and friends and we are thrilled to expand this magical event to Six Flags America and Six Flags St. Louis,” said Tom Iven, Six Flags senior vice president of U.S. operations. “From delicious holiday food to nighttime coaster rides and pictures with Santa, Holiday in the Park is the must-do experience of the holiday season.” Signature Holiday in the Park offerings guests of all ages can enjoy, include: On December 10, guests at Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and Six Flags Great Adventure will attempt to break the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for Most couples kissing under the mistletoe. For Holiday in the Park operating hours, visit www.sixflags.com. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is the world’s largest regional theme park company with $1.3 billion in revenue and 18 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada. For 55 years, Six Flags has entertained millions of families with world-class coasters, themed rides, thrilling water parks and unique attractions. For more information, visit www.sixflags.com.


News Article | March 21, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Later this spring, if all goes according to plan, a baby walrus will be born at the Aquarium du Québec. It’s a cute story, but also an extremely unusual one: live walrus births in captivity are so rare that only a handful have ever been recorded in North America. The last time a walrus in captivity was born anywhere in the world was apparently in 2014, at a German zoo. According to the sparse information available, said Quebec curator Jill Marvin, just 19 captive walruses have gotten pregnant at facilities across North America since as far back as the 1930s, when recordkeeping began. Of those, 15 live pups have been born, and only one survived into adulthood. But the Quebec story is even more exceptional, because there’s actually a second pregnant walrus there, too. Arnaliaq’s baby is due in April, and Samka’s should be born in June. (The dad in both cases is a walrus named Boris.) “The pregnancies happened 100 per cent naturally,” said Marvin, who partly credits the aquarium. “We’ve got a great vet team, they’re healthy and well-cared-for.” Even so, she recognized that the next few weeks are critical—and not without risk to the animals. “Giving birth is difficult. Calves can be 55 kilos [121 pounds] and up,” she said. “Maybe the position of the baby will be incorrect. It may be a hard labour.” Or maybe, once the pup is born, the mother will struggle to nurse. The aquarium is carefully preparing for each scenario. A walrus weighs in. Image: Aquarium du Québec The promise of walrus pups doesn’t attract the same level of attention as, say, baby pandas, a critically endangered species. But the situation in Quebec shows just how little we know about walrus sex and reproduction—and how dicey these can be. According to Marvin, there are about 40 walruses in zoos and aquariums worldwide, half of them in North America. Because these animals have such a hard time reproducing, many must have been captured as pups in the wild. (Arnaliaq, an Atlantic walrus, was taken by Inuit hunters north of Ungava Bay in northeastern Canada, according to Marvin. Boris and Samka came from Russia.) A media frenzy has erupted around the walrus love triangle of Samka, Boris and Arnie. The last time there was anything like it was in 2011, when a female walrus at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, near San Francisco, was expecting. Uquq’s pregnancy came after years of effort on the part of researchers there, including a bizarre series of experiments that saw an artificial walrus vagina introduced to arouse a 2,200-pound Pacific walrus. The researchers, including marine mammal reproduction experts and a male fertility doctor, discovered that male walruses—which breed seasonally—weren’t fertile at the same time as females. Their mating signals were mixed up because, in California, day-night circadian rhythms are different than in their Arctic home. In a study, the team described how hormonally shifted the male walrus’ window to coincide with the female’s. Uquq was in labour more than 40 hours. The pup she eventually delivered was stillborn. “The staff is extremely upset but attending to the welfare of Uquq at this time,” animal care director Michael Muraco said in a press statement. Muraco recognized that the odds were against Uquq delivering a healthy pup, but park staff had high hopes anyway. She was getting state-of-the-art care, including regular ultrasounds to check on the fetus. (Because Uquq was trained, it was easier to get her to lie down for the procedure, park trainers said.) The two pregnancies will be an opportunity to gain insights into a process we still barely understand With the pressures of climate change, “there are major conservation concerns about the walrus. It’s a species that’s poorly understood,” said Andrew Trites, a marine mammal expert at the University of British Columbia, who spoke to Motherboard over Skype from La Paz, Mexico, where he’s doing research on sea lions and other animals. There are thought to be about 250,000 walruses living in the Arctic. “They’ve been hunted for thousands of years. They’re very wary. They are a difficult species to get to know.” And they’re extremely easy to disturb, said Trites, who’s worked with wild walruses in the Bering Sea, using an icepick to collect frozen feces and learn about what they eat. “Just an airplane overhead can cause a stampede, and in the process they crush a young one," he told me. On one of his research trips, Trites met an Alaskan native who had collected walrus pups for a zoo. “I said, where did you get these calves from? Did they wash ashore? And he said, no—I killed their mother.” The man, a subsistence hunter, had few qualms about it, Trites recalled. “I realize his life was very different from my own.” Trites does see value in captive walruses for scientists like himself. In Quebec, the two pregnancies will be an opportunity to gain insights into a process we still barely understand. A walrus submits to an exam. Image: Aquarium du Québec Marvin is clearly protective of her walruses. Arnie and Samka are both being monitored round-the-clock, including with ultrasounds, and are taking prenatal vitamins with their diet of fish, squid, shrimp and mussels. The Quebec aquarium is consulting with other institutions, including Six Flags, and preparing for the births in every way possible. After speaking with Motherboard, Marvin hurried off to interview for new staff, in case the walruses need extra care—if the pups refuse to nurse and require bottlefeeding, for instance. “There is a chance something could go wrong. Yes, I am a nervous director,” she admitted. “These animals are really special to us.”


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.


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.


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.


PubMed | Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Type: Case Reports | Journal: Journal of andrology | Year: 2012

Walrus in US zoos have a very low reproductive rate of 11 births in 80 years, and little is known about Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) reproductive biology. To address this, we initiated a program in which detailed biological data were recorded on captive walrus. As part of a 7-year study, 1 male and 1 female 16-year-old captive Pacific walrus were carefully monitored with weekly serum hormone analysis, daily glans penis smears for spermatozoa, and abdominal ultrasound for pregnancy. The female ovulated once annually from late December through mid-January and then exhibited 9 months of sustained elevated progesterone. This nonconceptive estrous cycle profile is consistent with reports from wild walrus females. In contrast, the males seasonal rut routinely occurred in late February through May with a serum testosterone peak in March. This profile differed from the reported adult male cycle in wild walrus of November through March. During the period of the females ovulation, the male had nadir testosterone levels and was consistently azoospermic. Likewise, during the males spermatogenic rut in the spring, the female was anovulatory with elevated progesterone. On this basis, the male was treated for 14 weeks with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in an attempt to increase testosterone levels in synchrony with the females annual ovulation. The treatment successfully induced rut characterized by sustained elevated serum testosterone levels and production of spermatozoa. The male and female successfully bred, and the female became pregnant. Upon discontinuation of hCG treatment, the male resumed baseline testosterone levels. We theorize that the lack of synchronization of rut and ovulatory cycles is a primary reason for reproductive failure in these captive walrus.


PubMed | Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Type: Journal Article | Journal: 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.


News Article | November 16, 2016
Site: www.prlog.org

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom confirmed the elephants are gone

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