White Oak Conservation Center

Yulee, FL, United States

White Oak Conservation Center

Yulee, FL, United States

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Barnes S.A.,White Oak Conservation Center | Andrew Teare J.,International Species Information System | Staaden S.,Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens | Metrione L.,South East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation | Penfold L.M.,South East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2016

Basic reproductive information in female jaguars (. Panthera onca) is lacking, thus longitudinal fecal samples from seven females were analyzed via enzyme immunoassay to measure estradiol and progestin metabolites throughout the year. Mean estrus length of 194 estrus periods measured hormonally was 6.5 ± 0.3 d, mean peak fecal estradiol concentration was 138.7 ± 5.7 ng/g; and in one female, estrus resumption occurred approximately 15 d post-partum. Ovulation, as indicted by sustained elevated progestin concentrations (>20 d), was successfully induced one time by treatment with exogenous hormones in one female and by physical vaginal stimulation in two females a combined total of three times. Elevated fecal progestin was observed outside exogenous stimulation on five occasions, suggesting ovulation occurred spontaneously. Mean length of physically induced and spontaneous pseudopregnancies was 24.7 ± 4.2 d and 29.6 ± 2.6 d, respectively, and mean length of pregnancy (n = 2) was 98.0 ± 0.0 d. Mean peak progestin concentration for spontaneous and induced pseudopregnancies, and pregnancy was 7.4 ± 1.4 μg/g, 6.4 ± 1.2 μg/g, and 13.7 ± 1.0 μg/g, respectively. This data suggests jaguars are polyestrous and generally induced ovulators, with a moderate incidence of spontaneous ovulation. Additionally, two protocols to successfully stimulate ovarian activity in jaguars are described. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.


PubMed | University of Pennsylvania, International Species Information System, University of Nottingham, San Diego Zoo Global and 5 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Veterinary pathology | Year: 2014

A novel leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 73 mature male and female large captive felids between 1994 and 2005. While the majority of identified cases occurred in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), the disease was also found in members of 2 other subfamilies of Felidae: 1 generic tiger (Panthera tigris) and 2 Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi). The median age at time of death was 12 years, and all but 1 cheetah were housed in the United States. Characteristic clinical history included progressive loss of vision leading to blindness, disorientation, and/or difficulty eating. Neurologic deficits progressed at a variable rate over days to years. Mild to severe bilateral degenerative lesions were present in the cerebral white matter and variably and to a lesser degree in the white matter of the brain stem and spinal cord. Astrocytosis and swelling of myelin sheaths progressed to total white matter degeneration and cavitation. Large, bizarre reactive astrocytes are a consistent histopathologic feature of this condition. The cause of the severe white matter degeneration in these captive felids remains unknown; the lesions were not typical of any known neurotoxicoses, direct effects of or reactions to infectious diseases, or nutritional deficiencies. Leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 70 cheetahs, 1 tiger, and 2 panthers over an 11-year period, and to our knowledge, cases have ceased without planned intervention. Given what is known about the epidemiology of the disease and morphology of the lesions, an environmental or husbandry-associated source of neurotoxicity is suspected.


Johnson W.E.,U.S. National Cancer Institute | Onorato D.P.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | Roelke M.E.,SAIC | Land E.D.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | And 12 more authors.
Science | Year: 2010

The rediscovery of remnant Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi) in southern Florida swamplands prompted a program to protect and stabilize the population. In 1995, conservation managers translocated eight female pumas (P. c. stanleyana) from Texas to increase depleted genetic diversity, improve population numbers, and reverse indications of inbreeding depression. We have assessed the demographic, population-genetic, and biomedical consequences of this restoration experiment and show that panther numbers increased threefold, genetic heterozygosity doubled, survival and fitness measures improved, and inbreeding correlates declined significantly. Although these results are encouraging, continued habitat loss, persistent inbreeding, infectious agents, and possible habitat saturation pose new dilemmas. This intensive management program illustrates the challenges of maintaining populations of large predators worldwide.


Hendricks K.E.M.,University of Florida | Penfold L.M.,White Oak Conservation Center | Evenson D.P.,SCSA Diagnostics | Kaproth M.T.,Genex Cooperative Inc. | And 2 more authors.
Theriogenology | Year: 2010

Biological samples, including cryopreserved sperm, are routinely X-rayed during air shipment. The goal was to investigate the impact of X-irradiation used for checked and carry-on luggage on bovine sperm chromatin integrity and postfertilization in vitro embryonic development. Frozen domestic bull sperm (Bos taurus) (n = 9 bulls) stored in a dry shipper (-160 °C) was screened by X-irradiation 0, 1, 2, and 3 times as either carry-on or checked luggage. Duplicate straws were thawed, and sperm were assessed for chromatin damage using the sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) and by postfertilization in vitro developmental competence of mature oocytes. Multiple exposure to X-rays did not significantly affect sperm chromatin integrity assessed by SCSA. There were lower proportions of oocytes cleaved (P = 0.07; 21.6 ± 3.1% vs. 29.4 ± 3.1%, 24.9 ± 3.1%, and 25.7 ± 3.3% for 3 vs. 0, 1, and 2 times, respectively; least-squares means ± SEM) and that developed to blastocysts (P = 0.06; 9.0 ± 1.7% vs. 13.8 ± 1.7%, 11.5 ± 1.7%, and 12.6 ± 1.9%, respectively) when fertilization was performed with sperm X-rayed 3 times using checked luggage irradiation; developmental competence (percentage cleaved embryos becoming blastocysts) was unaffected. There were no deleterious effects of other X-irradiation treatments on embryo development. We inferred that screening by X-irradiation may reduce the ability of sperm to activate oocyte cleavage after multiple exposures at the checked luggage dose. However, there was no evidence that competence of embryos to become blastocysts was reduced by X-irradiation (45.4 ± 5.7%, 40.4 ± 5.7%, 46.4 ± 6.1%, and 41.8 ± 5.7% for 0, 1, 2, and 3 doses, respectively), but potential long-term epigenetic effects are unknown. © 2010.


PubMed | Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, South East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation, White Oak Conservation Center and International Species Information System
Type: | Journal: General and comparative endocrinology | Year: 2015

Basic reproductive information in female jaguars (Panthera onca) is lacking, thus longitudinal fecal samples from seven females were analyzed via enzyme immunoassay to measure estradiol and progestin metabolites throughout the year. Mean estrus length of 194 estrus periods measured hormonally was 6.50.3d, mean peak fecal estradiol concentration was 138.75.7ng/g; and in one female, estrus resumption occurred approximately 15d post-partum. Ovulation, as indicted by sustained elevated progestin concentrations (>20d), was successfully induced one time by treatment with exogenous hormones in one female and by physical vaginal stimulation in two females a combined total of three times. Elevated fecal progestin was observed outside exogenous stimulation on five occasions, suggesting ovulation occurred spontaneously. Mean length of physically induced and spontaneous pseudopregnancies was 24.74.2d and 29.62.6d, respectively, and mean length of pregnancy (n=2) was 98.00.0d. Mean peak progestin concentration for spontaneous and induced pseudopregnancies, and pregnancy was 7.41.4g/g, 6.41.2g/g, and 13.71.0g/g, respectively. This data suggests jaguars are polyestrous and generally induced ovulators, with a moderate incidence of spontaneous ovulation. Additionally, two protocols to successfully stimulate ovarian activity in jaguars are described.


Ganswindt A.,University of Pretoria | Brown J.L.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Freeman E.W.,George Mason University | Kouba A.J.,Memphis Zoological Society | And 6 more authors.
Biology Letters | Year: 2012

Hormone analysis is a precise and widely accepted tool formonitoring reproductive function and responses to stressors. Although hormones are present and can be measured in various biological matrices, non-invasive methods have gained popularity over the past 30 years as a more practical approach for assessing ovarian, testicular and, more recently, adrenocortical activity in intractable wildlife species. Noninvasive hormone monitoring also has been key to understanding biological mechanisms related to observed behaviours of captive and free-ranging animals. Despite the increasing popularity of this research field, wildlife endocrinologists have not had a specific forum for sharing and discussing their latest findings, technical developments and common challenges. To provide such a communication platform, the International Society for Wildlife Endocrinology (ISWE) was established in 2010, followed by an international meeting held on 3-4 November 2011 at the Toronto Zoo, Canada. Over several sessions, keynote speakers and participants discussed recent developments of new and innovative methods for hormone monitoring, as well as the latest advances in basic endocrinology as applied to adrenal function, reproductive physiology, animal health, ecology and evolution. Here, we introduce ISWE to the scientific community and discuss how this new society will serve as a resource for wildlife endocrinologists worldwide. © 2011 The Royal Society.


Assisted reproduction includes simple strategies, such as oral progestin to maintain pregnancy and hormone monitoring to predict oestrus for breeding introductions, as well as complex procedures, such as oestrous synchronization and artificial insemination (AI). The primary focus of research at White Oak Conservation Center, Yulee, FL, has been to work towards techniques allowing movement of frozen semen to manage metapopulations rather than translocate animals. Using the Gerenuk Litocranius walleri walleri as a model for threatened antelope, oestrous synchronization and AI were refined to produce four live offspring (from six attempts) using hand restraint rather than anaesthesia for inseminations. Conversely, similar progress with Okapi Okapia johnstoni has been slower. Okapi sperm are highly susceptible to osmotic changes and the physical pressures of the freezing process, which has limited the ability to develop suitable cryopreservation protocols. Storage of frozen semen from highly threatened animals provides insurance against loss of the individual's genes to the population and, if used for future insemination, can potentially provide new 'founders'. Biomaterials from both species, including blood and blood products, are preserved in genome resource banks together with samples from other threatened species, including the Florida panther Felis concolor coryi. It is important to note that assisted reproduction in novel species requires significant commitment and continuity from zoological institutions for optimal results. © 2010 The Authors. International Zoo Yearbook © 2010 The Zoological Society of London.


Terrell K.A.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Terrell K.A.,University of New Orleans | Wildt D.E.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Anthony N.M.,University of New Orleans | And 5 more authors.
Biology of Reproduction | Year: 2011

We have previously reported a lack of glucose uptake in domestic cat and cheetah spermatozoa, despite observing that these cells produce lactate at rates that correlate positively with sperm function. To elucidate the role of glycolysis in felid sperm energy production, we conducted a comparative study in the domestic cat and cheetah, with the hypothesis that sperm motility and viability are maintained in both species in the absence of glycolytic metabolism and are fueled by endogenous substrates. Washed ejaculates were incubated in chemically defined medium in the presence/absence of glucose and pyruvate. A second set of ejaculates was exposed to a chemical inhibitor of either lactate dehydrogenase (sodium oxamate) or glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (alpha-chlorohydrin). Sperm function (motility and acrosomal integrity) and lactate production were assessed, and a subset of spermatozoa was assayed for intracellular glycogen. In both the cat and cheetah, sperm function was maintained without exogenous substrates and following lactate dehydrogenase inhibition. Lactate production occurred in the absence of exogenous hexoses, but only if pyruvate was present. Intracellular glycogen was not detected in spermatozoa from either species. Unexpectedly, glycolytic inhibition by alpha-chlorohydrin resulted in an immediate decline in sperm motility, particularly in the domestic cat. Collectively, our findings reveal an essential role of the glycolytic pathway in felid spermatozoa that is unrelated to hexose metabolism or lactate formation. Instead, glycolytic enzyme activity could be required for the metabolism of endogenous lipid-derived glycerol, with fatty acid oxidation providing the primary energy source in felid spermatozoa. © 2011 by the Society for the Study of Reproduction, Inc.


Dehnhard M.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | Finkenwirth C.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | Crosier A.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Penfold L.,White Oak Conservation Center | And 2 more authors.
Theriogenology | Year: 2012

Understanding the complex endocrine interactions that control reproduction in felids is essential for captive breeding management. The most important demand is a quick and reliable pregnancy diagnosis. However, the occurrence of pseudopregnancies in felids complicates matters. We investigated whether the fecal prostaglandin metabolite (PGFM) recently suggested for pregnancy diagnosis in the lynx is suitable for all felid species. We found that increased levels of PGFM during the last trimester indicate pregnancy in seven of the eight main lineages of the carnivore family Felidae. PGFM levels in a sand cat (domestic cat lineage) were basal at mating and remained so until Day 40 post-mating. Day 41 marked the beginning of a distinct increase culminating in peak levels of 6.5 μg/g before parturition and decreasing again to baseline thereafter. Similar pregnancy profiles were obtained from the domestic cat, the leopard cat, the lynx, the ocelot and the caracal lineage, whereas in pseudopregnant individuals (sand cat, Iberian and Eurasian lynx) fecal PGFM remained at basal levels. In pregnant cheetahs (puma lineage) PGFM increased above basal following day ~48 peaking before pregnancy but remained at baseline in pseudopregnant females. Discrepancies existed in the Panthera lineage. While Chinese leopard, Sumatran tiger, and the black panther showed marked increases of PGFM during the last weeks of pregnancy, only moderate increases in PGFM levels were found in the Indochinese tiger and the Persian leopard. Altogether, PGFM as tool for pregnancy diagnosis has been proven to be useful in breeding management of felids. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


Metrione L.C.,Ohio State University | Metrione L.C.,White Oak Conservation Center | Harder J.D.,Ohio State University
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2011

Prolonged or frequent secretion of adrenal glucocorticoids in response to aversive stimuli can negatively impact reproduction. Because female southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) reproduce poorly in captivity, we compared fecal corticosterone metabolite concentrations among parous, nulliparous, and adolescent females and examined social and physical aspects of the captive environment that might be related to differences in corticosterone metabolite concentrations. Aggression, dominance, sexual and play interactions, social group size and composition, enclosure size, and other housing characteristics were assessed though behavioral observations and review of historical and institution records. Concentrations of metabolized corticosterone in fecal samples were analyzed by enzyme immunoassay. The proportion of nulliparous females did not differ (p> 0.05) between subordinate and dominant animals, and subordinates did not have a higher mean fecal corticosterone concentration than dominants (p> 0.05). Of the behaviors examined, only the frequency of sexual play behaviors differed (p< 0.05) between dominants and subordinates. Average corticosterone concentrations differed (p< 0.05) across housing institutions but were not consistently elevated (p> 0.05) for females housed in most of the environmental conditions assessed. Housing with a female companion known from adolescence, however, tended to be associated (p= 0.06) with a lower mean corticosterone concentration than that when housing with a female companion introduced during adulthood or no female companion. Wild-caught females had a higher (p< 0.05) average corticosterone concentration than captive-born females. Average corticosterone concentration did not differ (p> 0.05) between acyclic and cycling, or nulliparous and parous females. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

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