Peer reviewed science July ’16

Total of 19 papers this month covering a range of taxa. Organised by journal. Enjoy!

Paper of the month….

Heidegger, E. M., von Houwald, F., Steck, B. and Clauss, M. (2016), Body condition scoring system for greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis): Development and application. Zoo Biol..

“Preventing obesity in zoo animals is increasingly recognized as an important husbandry objective. To achieve this goal, body condition scoring (BCS) systems are available for an ever-increasing number of species. Here, we present a BCS for the greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) based on an evaluation (on a scale from 1 to 5) of seven different body regions, and report resulting scores for 62 animals from 27 facilities, based on digital photographs. In animals above 4 years of age, this BCS correlated with the body mass:shoulder height ratio. Although differences between the sexes for individual regions were noted (with consistently higher scores in males for the neck and shoulder and in parous females for the abdomen), the average BCS of all regions did not differ significantly between males (4.3 ± 0.4) and females (4.1 ± 0.5). Linking the BCS to results of a questionnaire survey and studbook information, there were no differences in BCS between animals with and without foot problems or between parous and non-parous females. In a very limited sample of 11 females, those eight that had been diagnosed with leiomyoma in a previous study had a higher BCS (range 3.9–4.9) than the three that had been diagnosed as leiomyoma-free (range 3.5–3.7). The BCS was correlated to the amount of food offered as estimated from the questionnaire. Adjusting the amounts and the nutritional quality of the diet components is an evident measure to maintain animals at a target BCS (suggested as 3–3.5)”


Aquaculture International- April 2016 issue 24.

El-Magsodi M. Baruah K, Norouzitallab P, Bossier P., Sorgeloos P, Van Stappen G, (2016) Hydration/dehydration cycles imposed on Artemia cysts influence the tolerance limit of nauplii against abiotic and biotic stressors, Aquaculture International, 24:429–439

Limited hydration and dehydration cycles does not significantly affect the hatching rate, nor the stress tolerance on Artemia nauplii.  It could even lead to a slight increase in thermal tolerance.


Aquaculture- May 2016 issue 462 and 463

Maik dos Santos Cividanes da Hora, Jean-Christophe Joyeux, Ricardo Vieira Rodrigues,

Lília Pereira de Sousa-Santos, Levy Carvalho Gomes, Mônica Yumi Tsuzuki, (2016), Tolerance and growth of the longsnout seahorse Hippocampus reidi at different salinities, Aquaculture, 463, pg 1-6

Juvenile seahorses show great survival and higher growth rates in salinities between 10 and 25 psu.  Their blood isosmotic point is 11.68 psu.

Javier López-Luna Ruben Bermejo-Poza, Fernando Torrent Bravo, Morris Villarroel, (2016), Effect of degree-days of fasting stress on rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss,Aquaculture, 462, 109-114

Starving Rainbow trout up to 68 degree days had no negative effect on welfare or stress levels.


Journal of the World Aquaculture – June 2016 vol 47, no. 3

Yanhong Zhang, Xin Wang, Qiang Lin, (2016) Effects of Anesthetic Disposal on the Physiological and Behavioral Responses of the Lined Seahorses, Hippocampus erectus, Journal of the World Aquaculture, vol 47, no. 3,

 Seahorses can be anesthetised to stage II using 10mg/l of Clove oil or 20 mg/l of MS222.  Feeding slow but increasing during first 7 days post treatment.  No effect on feeding or growth after 7 days.

 Jun Wang, Zhanhui Qi, (2016), Effects of Dietary Protein Level on Nitrogen and Energy Budget of Juvenile Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle, Pelodiscus sinensis, Wiegmann, Journal of the World Aquaculture, vol 47, no. 3,

 This study found that optimum dietary protein level is 34.6% for soft shelled turtles


Applied Ichthyology- April 2016 vol 32 – requires subscription

C.A. Wang,J.N. Li, L.S. Wang, Z.G. Zhao, L. Luo, X. Du, J.S. Yin , Q.Y. Xu, (2016), Effects of tank colour on feeding, growth and stress responses of young taimen Hucho taimen (Pallas, 1773), J. Appl. Ichthyol. 32 (2016), 339–342,

Tank colour can have a major effect on the growth of juvenile fish.  Different species prefer different colours.  Eurasian perch= Light grey, Guppies= Blue, Rainbow trout=Green, barramundi=Red.  Although Taimen salmonids in this study showed no significant preference.


North American Journal of Aquaculture- June 2016 vol 78 – requires subscription

Berlinsky D, Watson M, DiMaggio M, Breton T, (2016) The Use of Tricaine Methanesulfonate, Clove Oil, Metomidate, and 2-Phenoxyethanol for Anesthesia Induction in Alewives, North American Journal of Aquaculture 78:84–91

All anaesthetics were successful at different dose rates.  In longer term sedation the clove oil gave a higher stress response to Metomidate.


Zoo Biology – May/June, Volume 35, Issue 3 requires subscription

Hosey, G., Melfi, V., Formella, I., Ward, S. J., Tokarski, M., Brunger, D., Brice, S. and Hill, S. P. (2016), Is wounding aggression in zoo-housed chimpanzees and ring-tailed lemurs related to zoo visitor numbers?. Zoo Biol., 35: 205–209.

We conclude that there is no evidence that high visitor numbers result in increased woundings in these two species when housed in zoos

Neto, M. P., Silveira, M. and dos Santos, M. E. (2016), Training bottlenose dolphins to overcome avoidance of environmental enrichment objects in order to stimulate play activities. Zoo Biol., 35: 210–215.

The results show that an initial reinforcement program focused on the manipulation of toys may overcome resistance, improving the effects of environmental enrichment plans, and it is a potentially useful strategy to increase the welfare of some captive animals.

Jones, H., McGregor, P. K., Farmer, H. L. A. and Baker, K. R. (2016), The influence of visitor interaction on the behavior of captive crowned lemurs (Eulemur coronatus) and implications for welfare. Zoo Biol., 35: 222–227.

In conclusion, visitor interaction did not compromise the welfare of the study subjects in either the short- or long-term, while an increase in visitor interactions over time has interesting implications for the enrichment properties of, or habituation to, unfamiliar humans

Dadone, L. I., Schilz, A., Friedman, S. G., Bredahl, J., Foxworth, S. and Chastain, B. (2016), Training giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) for front foot radiographs and hoof care. Zoo Biol., 35: 228–236.

By training giraffe for foot radiographs and hoof trims, potential causes of lameness could be identified and better managed. Long-term, the results may help zoos identify best practices for managing and preventing lameness in giraffe.


Applied Animal Behaviour Science – July, Volume 180 – requires subscription

Rodríguez-López, R. (2016), Environmental enrichment for parrot species: Are we squawking up the wrong tree? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 180: 1-10. doi:

  • A review of the published studies on environmental enrichment for parrots was performed.
  • Literature is dominated by studies implementing more than one type of environmental enrichment.
  • Existing research on parrot well-being has analysed abnormal behaviours such as feather picking and stereotypies.
  • Enrichment should go beyond modifying activity budgets: appropriate challenges should be provided.

Hovland, A.L., Rød, A.M.S., Koistinen, T. and Ahola, L. (2016), Preference for and use of oral enrichment objects in juvenile silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 180: 122–129. doi:

  • Foxes’ short-term preference for five different enrichment objects were measured.
  • A meat bone was preferred over rawhide, pulling device, straw and a plastic cube.
  • Gnawing was the predominant activity with the meat bone.
  • The bone was more resistant towards oral manipulation compared to the rawhide bone

Reijgwart, M.L., Vinke, C.M., Hendriksen, C.F.M., van der Meer, M., Schoemaker, N.J. and van Zeeland, Y.R.A. (2016), Ferrets’ (Mustela putorius furo) enrichment priorities and preferences as determined in a seven-chamber consumer demand study. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 180: 114-121. doi:

  • Ferrets’ motivation for six enrichment types was tested in a consumer demand study.
  • Ferrets pushed to their maximum push capacity for sleeping enrichment.
  • Motivation was also high for water bowls, social contact, foraging toys and tunnels.
  • High inter-individual variation was present in motivation for access to tunnels.
  • Within the categories, ferrets preferred a hammock, large bowl, flexible tunnel and ball with bell.


Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science – volume 19, issue 3 – requires subscription

Martin, R.A. and Melfi, V. (2016), A Comparison of Zoo Animal Behavior in the Presence of Familiar and Unfamiliar People. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 19 (3): 234-244.

This study suggests that unfamiliar keeper presence did not appear to have detrimental effects. Furthermore, unfamiliar keeper–animal interactions could provide an increased number of positive human–animal interactions and potentially enhance animal welfare.


PLOS One – open access – free of charge

Gaffney, L.P., Franks, B., Weary, D.M. and von Keyserlingk, M.A.G. (2016), Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Prefer and Are Less Aggressive in Darker Environments. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0151325.

These results provide the first evidence that darker tanks are preferred by and decrease aggression in salmonids, which points to the welfare benefits of housing farmed salmon in enclosures containing dark backgrounds.

Hampson, M.C. and Schwitzer, C. (2016), Effects of Hand-Rearing on Reproductive Success in Captive Large Cats Panthera tigris altaicaUncia unciaAcinonyx jubatusand Neofelis nebulosa. PLoS ONE 11(5): e0155992.

Hand rearing significantly reduced reproductive output, accept for snow leopards which had larger litters. More results within. Taking into account the limited carrying capacity of zoos, the results of this study highlight that careful consideration should be taken when deciding whether or not to hand-rear individuals that are part of Species Survival Plans and European Endangered Species Programmes.

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