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News Article | November 30, 2016

BioBlitz Canada 150 will put Canadians in direct contact with our wildlife OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - November 30, 2016) - As part of Canada's 150th celebrations, the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF), with BioBlitz Canada and other partners in conservation, will carry out a series of public bioblitzes across the nation to help showcase and conserve our natural heritage. "This fascinating project will engage, inspire and strengthen the environmental consciousness of Canadians all across the country. Let's take the opportunity being offered to us to become the guardians of our Canadian wildlife, an invaluable source of wealth," said the Hon. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. BioBlitz Canada 150 is one of 38 Signature Projects recently announced by Minister Joly under the federal Canada 150 initiative. BioBlitz Canada 150 events will bring together thousands of Canadians from all ages, cultural backgrounds and walks of life to explore Canada's terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine environments. The BioBlitz Canada 150 project will generate new scientific data and document new species, information which is critical for decisions on the state of Canada's biodiversity. In the next days, for instance, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) will announce their assessments of which species are at risk of extinction and which may be holding their own. These assessments are based on the kind of data that the BioBlitz Canada 150 project will provide. "Wildlife and nature are key parts of the Canadian identity and we're very pleased the Government of Canada recognizes and supports this aspect of our national celebration," said Rick Bates, CEO of the Canadian Wildlife Federation. "We look forward to having people from across the country participate in a bioblitz as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations." Public bioblitz events will blend science with community and youth engagement. Scientists and interested members of the public will go out together in nature to find, identify and record as many species as possible in a given time. The BioBlitz Canada 150 project will feature five flagship events in urban areas, 20 community events and 10 science-intense blitzes. Individuals, schools and organizations will also be encouraged to organize their own bioblitz events to share the celebration of Canada's wildlife and contribute to the national database. Locations, results and activity guides will be posted on the new website and observations will be tracked in real time through, the official database platform for BioBlitz Canada 150. The website will feature a variety of other resources to encourage public participation throughout the year. Discoveries will be showcased to the Canadian public, wildlife managers, conservation organizations, educational institutions and government agencies to shape conservation decisions which will help to inform choices on such issues such as climate change and loss of biodiversity and ensure these wild species and spaces remain for generations to come. The project will create Canada's nature selfie for our 150th. For more information and to watch the project unfold visit About the Canadian Wildlife Federation: The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. Visit for more information. About BioBlitz Canada: BioBlitz Canada is a national partnership of leading conservation, education and research organizations with the goal to document Canada's biodiversity by connecting the public with nature in a scientist-led participatory survey of life from sea to sea to sea, and make sure this important information can be useful to current and future science, with open-source access to all. Its vision is to help Canadians learn about and connect with nature, be it in one's own backyard or the most important ecological sites in Canada. Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Biological Survey of Canada, Birds Studies Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment and Climate Change Canada), iNaturalist Canada, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, NatureServe Canada, New Brunswick Museum, Parks Canada, RARE Charitable Research Reserve, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Stanley Park Ecology Society, Toronto Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium and other organizations. About iNaturalist Canada: Launched in 2015, iNaturalist Canada is a virtual place where Canadians can record and share what they see in nature, interact with other nature watchers, and learn about Canada's wildlife. The app is run by the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in collaboration with and the California Academy of Sciences. Parks Canada, NatureServe Canada and CWF's Hinterland Who's Who have been key partners in the development of iNaturalist Canada and will continue to play a role in the program.

Lentini A.M.,Toronto Zoo | Crawshaw G.J.,Toronto Zoo | Licht L.E.,York University | McLelland D.J.,Toronto Zoo
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2011

The study of secretive snakes, such as rattlesnakes, has benefited from the use of radiotelemetry. However, the principal assumption in telemetry studies is that the transmitter has no significant effect on the study animal. To test the validity of this assumption, the physiologic and pathologic effects of intracoelomic implants were examined in a group of 24 eastern massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) in a laboratory setting over a period of 58 wk between March 2005 and April 2006. Inflammation and infection were evaluated using gross examination, histopathology, bacteriology, hematology, and plasma protein electrophoresis. Inflammation and infection occurred despite careful surgical procedures and advanced veterinary care. Four of 12 (33%) snakes developed extensive inflammatory response to the transmitter and associated anaerobic and gram-negative bacterial infections. Another four (33%) snakes showed mild inflammatory responses without infection. Reaction to the transmitters was reflected in changes in values for heterophils, monocytes, alpha-1, and beta globulin levels. Some conclusions reached in field studies using implanted radiotransmitters in snakes may be invalid if the implant influences the behavior or survival of the subject. Advances in attachment methods and transmitter coating technology may prevent some of the adverse effects associated with surgically implanted transmitters. © Wildlife Disease Association 2011.

Delnatte P.,University of Guelph | Ojkic D.,University of Guelph | DeLay J.,University of Guelph | Campbell D.,Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center | And 2 more authors.
Avian Pathology | Year: 2013

Nine hundred and fifty-five pathology cases collected in Ontario between 1992 and 2011 from wild free-ranging Canada geese, trumpeter swans and mute swans were retrospectively evaluated for the pathology associated with avian bornavirus (ABV) infection. Cases were selected based on the presence of upper gastrointestinal impaction, central nervous system histopathology or clinical history suggestive of ABV infection. The proportion of birds meeting at least one of these criteria was significantly higher at the Toronto Zoo (30/132) than elsewhere in Ontario (21/823). Central, peripheral and autonomic nervous tissues were examined for the presence of lymphocytes and plasma cells on histopathology. The presence of virus was assessed by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on frozen brains and on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues. Among selected cases, 86.3% (44/51) were considered positive on histopathology, 56.8% (29/51) were positive by immunohistochemistry, and RT-PCR was positive on 88.2% (15/17) of the frozen brains and 78.4% (40/51) of the formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples. Histopathological lesions included gliosis and lymphoplasmacytic perivascular cuffing in brain (97.7%), spinal cord (50%), peripheral nerves (55.5%) and myenteric ganglia or nerves (62.8%), resembling lesions described in parrots affected with proventricular dilatation disease. Partial amino acid sequences of the nucleocapsid gene from seven geese were 100% identical amongst themselves and 98.1 to 100% identical to the waterfowl sequences recently described in the USA. Although ABV has been identified in apparently healthy geese, our study confirmed that ABV can also be associated with significant disease in wild waterfowl species. © 2013 Copyright Houghton Trust Ltd.

News Article | October 12, 2016

Researchers have transplanted embryos originating from the bison herd at Yellowstone National Park into female bison in Minnesota in hopes of increasing the genetic diversity of herds in the state and helping to restore America's official mammal to the landscape. While Yellowstone bison are prized because they're free of domestic cattle genes, experts say using them in breeding programs is difficult because they carry a contagious disease called brucellosis, which causes spontaneous abortions in pregnant cattle. Other efforts at spreading the genes of Yellowstone bison have focused on using animals descended from the park's herd that have been certified as disease free. Transplanting embryos uses in-vitro fertilization to get around the problem. Colorado State University animal reproduction professor Jennifer Barfield and other researchers last month implanted embryos in four female bison at the Minnesota Zoo. Veterinarians will conduct ultrasound tests in the coming months to see if the animals became pregnant. If all goes well, they'll give birth to baby bison in the spring. The four females are part of a larger "conservation herd" managed by the zoo and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which also includes bison at Minneopa State Park and Blue Mounds State Park that are largely free of cattle genes. The herd would benefit greatly from Yellowstone genetics, officials said, but securing a sexually mature Yellowstone bull to breed conventionally has been impossible because they can't be moved out of the park. "It will also demonstrate that we can use reproductive technologies to move the Yellowstone genetics outside of the park without the threat of spreading the disease brucellosis, which has implications for bison conservation on a broader scale," Barfield said. Tens of millions of bison once roamed the Great Plains but were hunted to near extinction in the late 1800s. About 30,000 wild bison now roam the country. Yellowstone has the largest population so its genetics are highly diverse. While commercial bison herds now number more than 300,000, many of those animals and other wild bison are bison-cattle hybrids to varying degrees. Government, tribal and zoo efforts seek to restore the animals' original genetics. This isn't the first time embryo transfers have been used to improve the genetics of bison herds. Barfield also led transplants that resulted in a calf with pure Yellowstone bloodlines at New York's Bronx Zoo in 2012. For both zoos she took eggs from female bison that had been culled from the Yellowstone herd and fertilized them with sperm from males in Colorado State's herd. And she has produced several other calves at the university via embryo transfers and artificial insemination. She's also waiting for ultrasound results to see if other recent transfers worked at Colorado State and the Bronx Zoo. But the process is still "an experimental procedure at best," cautioned Keith Aune, bison program director for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo. The technique produced only one calf in about 25 tries at the Bronx Zoo, he said, but the field of bison research is young and the approach may become more successful with more development. Aune, who's not directly involved in the Minnesota project, said Barfield's work fits well into the bigger picture of bison conservation. He said the Toronto Zoo is also experimenting with embryo transplants in a northern subspecies called the wood bison. He said the Bronx Zoo plans to import several bison with pure Yellowstone roots from a disease-free herd next month if it gets the necessary permits. Image: In this June 19, 2014, file photo, bison graze near a stream in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Researchers have transplanted embryos with roots in the bison herd at Yellowstone National Park into female bison at the Minnesota Zoo in hopes of increasing the genetic diversity of bison herds in the state and refining a tool that could be used across the country someday as part of efforts to restore the animals to the American landscape. (AP Photo/Robert Graves)

Terwissen C.V.,Trent University | Mastromonaco G.F.,Toronto Zoo | Murray D.L.,Trent University
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2013

Land use changes are a significant factor influencing the decline of felid populations. However, additional research is needed to better understand how these factors influence populations in the wild. Hormone analysis can provide valuable information on the basic physiology and overall health of an animal, and enzyme immunoassays (EIA) are generally used for hair hormone analysis but must first be validated for the substrate of choice and species of interest. To date, hormone assays from hair have not been validated for Felidae, despite that the method holds considerable promise for non-invasive sampling of free-ranging animals. We sought to: (1) evaluate whether increased adrenocorticotrophin hormone (ACTH) during the period of hair growth results in elevated hair cortisol; (2) validate the enzyme immunoassay used; and (3) identify any variations in hair cortisol between age, sex and body regions, using Canada lynx. We quantified hair cortisol concentrations in captive animals through an ACTH challenge and collected samples from legally harvested lynx to compare variability between body regions. An EIA was validated for the analysis of hair cortisol. Lynx (n=3) had a qualitative increase in hair cortisol concentration following an ACTH challenge in captive animals (20. IU/kg of body weight weekly for 5. weeks), thereby supporting the use of an EIA to quantify cortisol values in hair. Based on our analysis of sampled lynx pelts, we found that hair cortisol did not vary between age and sex, but varied within the foot/leg region to a greater extent than between individuals. We recommend that future studies identify a standardized location for hair cortisol sampling. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

Delehanty B.,University of Toronto | Hossain S.,University of Toronto | Jen C.C.,University of Toronto | Crawshaw G.J.,Toronto Zoo | Boonstra R.,University of Toronto
Conservation Physiology | Year: 2015

Plasma glucocorticoids (GCs) are commonly used as measures of stress in wildlife. A great deal of evidence indicates that only free GC (GC not bound by the specific binding protein, corticosteroid-binding globulin, CBG) leaves the circulation and exerts biological effects on GC-sensitive tissues. Free hormone concentrations are difficult to measure directly, so researchers estimate free GC using two measures: the binding affinity and the binding capacity in plasma. We provide an inexpensive saturation binding method for calculating the binding affinity (equilibrium dissociation constant, Kd) of CBG that can be run without specialized laboratory equipment. Given that other plasma proteins, such as albumin, also bind GCs, the method compensates for this non-specific binding. Separation of bound GC from free GC was achieved with dextran-coated charcoal. The method provides repeatable estimates (12% coefficient of variation in the red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), and there is little evidence of inter-individual variation in Kd (range 2.0-7.3 nM for 16 Richardson's ground squirrels, Urocitellus richardsonii). The Kd values of 28 mammalian species we assessed were mostly clustered around a median of 4 nM, but five species had values between 13 and 61 nM. This pattern may be distinct from birds, for which published values are more tightly distributed (1.5-5.1 nM). The charcoal separation method provides a reliable and robust method for measuring the Kd in a wide range of species. It uses basic laboratory equipment to provide rapid results at very low cost. Given the importance of CBG in regulating the biological activity of GCs, this method is a useful tool for physiological ecologists. © The Author 2015.

Beauclerc K.B.,Trent University | Johnson B.,Toronto Zoo | White B.N.,Trent University
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2010

The Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur) is currently composed of a single wild population on the south coast of Puerto Rico and two captive populations founded by animals from the northern and southern coasts. The main factors contributing to its decline are habitat loss, inundation of breeding ponds during storms, and impacts of invasive species. Recovery efforts have been extensive, involving captive breeding and reintroductions, habitat restoration, construction of breeding ponds, and public education. To guide future conservation efforts, genetic variation and differentiation were assessed for the two captive colonies and the remaining wild population using the mitochondrial control region and six novel microsatellite loci. Only two moderately divergent mitochondrial haplotypes were found, with one fixed in each of the southern and northern lineages. Moderate genetic variation exists for microsatellite loci in all three groups. The captive southern population has not diverged substantially from the wild population at microsatellite loci (FST = 0.03), whereas there is little allelic overlap between the northern and southern lineages at five of six loci (FST > 0.3). Despite this differentiation, they are no more divergent than many populations of other amphibian species. As the northern breeding colony may not remain viable due to its small size and inbred nature, it is recommended that a third breeding colony be established in which northern and southern individuals are combined. This will preserve any northern adaptive traits that may exist, and provide animals for release in the event that the pure northern lineage becomes extirpated. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009.

News Article | November 28, 2015

Giant panda mother Er Shun holds one of her twin cubs in this undated handout picture taken at the Toronto Zoo in Toronto, Ontario. Twin giant panda cubs born to mother Er Shun are seen in this undated handout picture taken at the Toronto Zoo in Toronto, Ontario. Twin giant panda cubs born to mother Er Shun are seen in this undated handout picture taken at the Toronto Zoo in Toronto, Ontario. TORONTO The Toronto Zoo's twin giant panda cubs have been moved to a larger incubator and are doing very well, the zoo said on Friday in an update of the six-week old cubs, the first baby pandas born in Canada. The zoo released a new video and photos of the cubs, who are seen side by side in their incubator. Another photo shows one cub snuggling with mother Er Shun. They are not yet on display to the public as it is still a "very critical time" for the cubs, the zoo said. "The giant panda keepers and Chinese experts continue to twin-swap the cubs with Er Shun and as they grow, and both cubs are being supplemented with formula. The only time the cubs are not with mom is when she is eating bamboo," the zoo said in a statement. The cubs were conceived through artificial insemination using sperm from her Toronto Zoo partner Da Mao as well as the frozen sperm from two giant pandas living in China. Er Shun and Da Mao are on loan from China for 10 years as part of a long-term breeding program. They will remain at the Toronto zoo until 2018 and then relocate to the Calgary Zoo for five years.

News Article | March 7, 2016

Toronto - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other officials watched two giant panda cubs play at the Toronto Zoo on Monday after revealing the names of the animals. It was the first public glimpse of the male panda cub named Jia Panpan, which means Canadian Hope, and his sister Jia Yueyue, which translates to Canadian Joy. The cubs have been kept in a special maternity unit since their birth last October, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

News Article | April 26, 2016

Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, with the panda cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue at the Toronto Zoo last month, in an image from his Twitter account.

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