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Wheelhouse J.L.,University of Sydney | Hulst F.,Taronga Zoo | Beatty J.A.,University of Sydney | Hogg C.J.,Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia | And 3 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2015

The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae) is a critically endangered species in the wild. To ensure that demographic and genetic integrity are maintained in the longer term, those Sumatran tigers held in captivity are managed as a global population under a World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Global Species Management Plan (GSMP). A retrospective study, including segregation and pedigree analysis, was conducted to investigate potential cases of congenital vestibular disease (CVD) in captive Sumatran tigers in Australasian zoos using medical and husbandry records, as well as video footage obtained from 50 tigers between 1975 and 2013. Data from the GSMP Sumatran tiger studbook were made available for pedigree and segregation analysis.Fourteen cases of CVD in 13 Sumatran tiger cubs and one hybrid cub (. Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae × . Panthera tigris) were identified. Vestibular signs including head tilt, circling, ataxia, strabismus and nystagmus were observed between birth and 2 months of age. These clinical signs persisted for a median of 237 days and had resolved by 2 years of age in all cases. Pedigree analysis revealed that all affected tigers were closely related and shared a single common ancestor in the last four generations. A genetic cause for the disease is suspected and, based on pedigree and segregation analysis, an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance is likely. Further investigations to determine the world-wide prevalence and underlying pathology of this disorder are warranted. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Cassey P.,University of Adelaide | Hogg C.J.,Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

Worldwide, invasive alien species increasingly contribute to environmental change and are a massive drain on social and economic resources. In Australia, the detection of new vertebrate incursions (i.e., alien species not currently established) has increased over the last decade. In other parts of the world, zoos have been identified as one of the influential pathways for the establishment of alien vertebrate species. We quantified the number of vertebrate species released (escaped and stolen) from Australian zoos between 1870 and 2010. The majority of reported releases (185 out of 230) have occurred since 1985. Most of the species (77.9%), which have escaped, or been stolen, from Australian zoos have only ever been released once. In sum, escapes were much more common (89%) than thefts. Compared to the other three vertebrate classes (amphibians, birds, mammals) reptiles experienced a significantly greater proportion of thefts than expected by chance. Almost half of all escapes (46%) were bird species. Birds also had the lowest retrieval rate, and therefore posed the greatest potential risk to establishment and subsequent invasion. We used phylogenetic logistic regression models to assess the association of evolutionary traits correlated with the propensity of a bird species for escaping. There was only weak evidence of phylogenetic signal (association among related species) in the tendency of a bird to escape. Bird species were significantly more likely to have escaped if their current total collection size was larger. There was no relationship between escape and the type of holding (aviary versus free-range/open-pond), or life history traits (adult body size and geographic breeding range size). Zoos are a prominent part of our culture and play a valuable role in education and conservation. Captive animals, including those in zoos, are subject to release, through both intentional and unintentional pathways, however, the establishment of alien species associated with Australian zoos is extremely low. We conclude that, in Australia, the risk of introduction by alien species from zoos is low, and substantially less than other 'backyard' and illegal sources of private species keeping and trade. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Cox-Witton K.,A+ Network | Reiss A.,Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia | Woods R.,A+ Network | Grillo V.,A+ Network | And 13 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Emerging infectious diseases are increasingly originating from wildlife. Many of these diseases have significant impacts on human health, domestic animal health, and biodiversity. Surveillance is the key to early detection of emerging diseases. A zoo based wildlife disease surveillance program developed in Australia incorporates disease information from free-ranging wildlife into the existing national wildlife health information system. This program uses a collaborative approach and provides a strong model for a disease surveillance program for free-ranging wildlife that enhances the national capacity for early detection of emerging diseases. © 2014 Cox-Witton et al.

Hogg C.J.,Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia | Ivy J.A.,San Diego Zoo Global | Srb C.,Healesville Sanctuary | Hockley J.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | And 3 more authors.
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2015

An insurance population for the critically endangered Tasmanian devil was established in 2006. Due to successful captive breeding, the population has reached its carrying capacity of 600 devils and retains 99.95 % of founding gene diversity. Although reproduction has been quite successful, possible relatedness among founding individuals, influences of genetic provenance and pairing success on female productivity were evaluated to further refine insurance population management. Ten polymorphic microsatellite markers were used to assess the founders. Although the data were ultimately insufficient for determining specific founder relationships, a STRUCTURE analysis determined founders to be of eastern or western provenance. Western provenance animals had an observed heterozygosity of 0.38; while eastern provenance was 0.41. Allelic frequencies between the two provenances were similar. Although differences in pairing success of eastern and western provenance animals were noted, there was no difference in overall productivity (number of joeys/female). Cross-provenance pairings were not as successful as W–W but had similar productivity, and produced viable offspring. Birth origin (wild-born vs. zoo-born) had no influence on pairing success but wild-born females produce significantly more joeys/female. For zoo-born females, the number of joeys produced per female had a downward trend between respective generations in captivity. Current and future population managers should be aware of potential reductions in productivity across captive generations and adjust breeding recommendations accordingly. The ability to recruit founders from diseased females, along with a better understanding of the influence of genetic provenance and birth origin on productivity, has led to changes in acquisition of future founders for this insurance population. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Hogg C.J.,Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia | Hibbard C.,Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia | Ford C.,Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia | Embury A.,Australasian Species Management Program Chair
Zoo Biology | Year: 2013

Species management has been utilized by the zoo and aquarium industry, since the mid-1990s, to ensure the ongoing genetic and demographic viability of populations, which can be difficult to maintain in the ever-changing operating environments of zoos. In 2009, the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia reviewed their species management services, focusing on addressing issues that had arisen as a result of the managed programs maturing and operating environments evolving. In summary, the project examined resourcing, policies, processes, and species to be managed. As a result, a benchmarking tool was developed (Health Check Report, HCR), which evaluated the programs against a set of broad criteria. A comparison of managed programs (n = 98), between 2008 and 2011, was undertaken to ascertain the tool's effectiveness. There was a marked decrease in programs that were designated as weak (37 down to 13); and an increase in excellent programs (24 up to 49) between the 2 years. Further, there were significant improvements in the administration benchmarking area (submission of reports, captive management plan development) across a number of taxon advisory groups. This HCR comparison showed that a benchmarking tool enables a program's performance to be quickly assessed and any remedial measures applied. The increases observed in program health were mainly due to increased management goals being attained. The HCR will be an ongoing program, as the management of the programs increases and goals are achieved, criteria will be refined to better highlight on Zoo Biol. 32:230-237, 201going issues and ways in which these can be resolved.3. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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