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Hosey G.,University of Bolton | Melfi V.,Taronga Conservation Society Australia
Zoo Biology | Year: 2014

Human-animal interactions (HAI), which may lead to human-animal relationships (HAR), may be positive, neutral, or negative in nature. Zoo studies show that visitors may be stressful, may have no effect, or may be enriching. There is also evidence that good HARs set up between animals and their keepers can have positive effects on animal welfare. However, we need to know more about negative HARs, and as a first step we attempt to do this here by considering cases where animals attack people in the zoo. Due to the sensitivity and rarity of these events data appear sparse and unsystematically collected. Here, information available in the public domain about the circumstances of these attacks has been collated to test hypotheses about negative HAIs derived from a model of zoo HARs. The limited data presented here broadly support the zoo HAR model, and suggest that attacks usually happen in unusual circumstances, where there may be a failure by the animal to recognise the HAR, or where the relationship, if there is one, does not hold; and give some support to the prediction that exposure to many keepers may impair the development of a positive HAR. This study may provide useful information for the zoo community to proactively collect systematic standardised records, which will enable a fuller understanding of zoo HARs, upon which appropriate measures might be adopted to build better zoo HARs, which are likely to positively impact zoo animal welfare, and reduce these rare incidences further. Zoo Biol. 34:1-8, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Melfi V.,Taronga Conservation Society Australia
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2013

Husbandry training of zoo animals (training) has been associated with many benefits, and indisputably is a valuable tool; training facilitates movement of animals within their environment, and participation in husbandry and medical procedures. Training has also been considered to be enriching. With few exceptions systematic empirical data have not been collected which have evaluated the impact of training zoo animals outside of the training session. Most publications in this area are methodological, outlining what behaviours can be trained and how, or consider the value of training whether it is believed to be beneficial or detrimental. Determining whether training is enriching, is in part hindered by semantics; what is meant by the suggestion that training is enriching? To move this situation forward five hypotheses have been suggested in this paper whereby animals would be considered to be enriched, if training: 1) affords learning opportunities, as learning is considered to be enriching; 2) can achieve the same results as conventional environmental enrichment (CEE); 3) increases human-animal interactions; 4) provides a dynamic change in the animals' day; and 5) facilitates the provision of CEE. These suggested hypotheses are by no means exhaustive, but represent commonly held assumptions used to explain how training might be considered enriching. These hypotheses provide a starting point to systematically consider available data which support or refute whether training is enriching; an evidence based approach.Data collated revealed that training could be considered enriching according to: hypothesis 1, whilst the animal is still learning; hypothesis 2, if the ultimate consequence of training was considered itself enriching. More data are required to test hypothesis 3. And data did not support that training was enriching in and of itself according to hypotheses 4 and 5. In conclusion, training was not considered to be an appropriate alternative to the provision of CEE. Both, training and CEE are recommended to ensure an integrated holistic captive animal management strategy which will meet an animal's needs. © 2013.

Keeley T.,Taronga Conservation Society Australia | Keeley T.,University of Sydney | O'Brien J.K.,University of Sydney | O'Brien J.K.,SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center | And 3 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2012

Numbers of wild Tasmanian devils are declining as a result of the fatal, transmissible Devil Facial Tumor Disease. A captive insurance population program has been initiated but current captive breeding rates are sub-optimal and therefore the goal of this project was to increase our understanding of the estrous cycle of the devil and elucidate potential causes of failed male-female pairings. Temporal patterns of fecal progestagen and corticosterone metabolite concentrations were examined for females (n= 41) in three categories of reproductive status (successful: viable young, n= 20 estrous cycles; unsuccessful: paired with a male but no young confirmed, n= 44 estrous cycles; non-mated: no access to a male during estrus, n= 8 estrous cycles) but substantial differences were not found. Females were more likely to produce pouch young if pairing with the male extended into late proestrus (P< 0.05), thereby decreasing the time between pairing and presumed ovulation. The interval between the end of proestrous elevation in progestagen metabolite concentrations and the beginning of the luteal phase was 7.6 ± 2.3. days in successful females. The length of the luteal phase in successful females was 12.5 ± 1.4. days which was not different from unsuccessful or non-mated females (P> 0.05). Unsuccessful females had 1-3 estrous cycles within a single year. Successful females were predominantly wild-caught (17/19, 90%) and most produced young following the first estrous cycle of the season (18/20, 90%). Unsuccessful females were predominantly captive born (20/27, 74%) in this study. It is possible that a proportion of females that do not produce pouch young achieve conception but the timing of reproductive failure continues to be elusive in this species. © 2012.

Adams V.M.,University of Queensland | Spindler R.E.,Taronga Conservation Society Australia | Kingsford R.T.,University of New South Wales
Pacific Conservation Biology | Year: 2016

Oceania is a diverse region encompassing Australia, Melanesia, Micronesia, New Zealand and Polynesia, with six of the world's 39 hotspots of diversity but a poor record for extinctions from widespread threats to biodiversity. The region is also culturally diverse, containing close to a quarter of the world's languages and some of the oldest cultures. This makes the region a priority for immediate and sustained conservation action. In this special issue we provide local conservation solutions in Oceania to global problems, capturing the diversity of nations, cultures and environments. The issue is organised by the major threats faced in the region: habitat loss, over exploitation and invasive species. Case studies, framed as coupled problem-solutions, include examples from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific and contrast findings across regions and realms. There are successes and failures faced by conservation in this local region, and the analysis within this special issue offers lessons for conservation globally. © CSIRO 2016.

Staff M.,New South Wales Health | Musto J.,New South Wales Health | Hogg G.,Public Health Laboratory | Janssen M.,Taronga Conservation Society Australia | Rose K.,Taronga Conservation Society Australia
Emerging Infectious Diseases | Year: 2012

A community outbreak of gastroenteritis in Australia during 2007-2009 was caused by ingestion of playground sand contaminated with Salmonella enterica Paratyphi B, variant Java. The bacterium was also isolated from local wildlife. Findings support consideration of nonfood sources during salmonellosis outbreak investigations and indicate transmission through the animal-human interface.

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