Peer Reviewed Science December ’16

Welcome to volume seven (December) of this digest of recent scientific discoveries for zoo keepers and aquarists!

Aquaculture International – Online only

Pattanasiri T., Taparhudee W., Suppakul, P. (2016) Anaesthetic efficacy of clove oil-coated LDPE bag on improving water quality and survival in the Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, during transportation, Aquaculture International.

Clove oil infused methylcellulose was coated onto fish transport bags, slowly releasing a small amount of clove oil into the water.  Survival and water quality were improved after 48 hours over controls.


Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture- October 2016 Volume119 Issue 5

Romano N., Zeng C. (2017) Cannibalism of Decapod Crustaceans and Implications for Their Aquaculture: A Review of its Prevalence, Influencing Factors, and Mitigating Methods, Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture, 25:1, 42-69,


An interesting read if your crabs keep ripping each other apart.  Use of hides, stocking density and feed rates the most important factors. Give we are beginning to see lot of evidence for their ability to feel pain and suffer this is a timely publication.

Cohen F. P. A, Valenti W. C, Planas M., Calado R., (2017) Seahorse Aquaculture, Biology and Conservation: Knowledge Gaps and Research Opportunities, Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture, 25:1, 100-111,

Nothing too much to add to knowledge of seahorse husbandry, but an interesting read to see the direction seahorse research has taken over the last 10 years.

Aquaculture International- October 2016 Volume 24 Issue 5

Li M., Rahman M. M., Wu B., Lin Y. C., (2016) Effects of dietary canthaxanthin on growth and body colour of blood parrot cichlid Amphilophus citrinellus × Paraneetroplus synspilus.” Aquaculture International, 24:5 1255-1261

 Diets containing canthaxanthin (a carotenoid) increases colouration in parrot cichlids up to 0.012% of food weight, after that it starts to inhibit colouration.


Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology- January 2017 Volume 486

Dubininkas V., (2017) Effects of substratum on the growth and survivorship of Montipora capitata and Porites lobata transplants. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 486: 134–139

No significant difference in many different substrate types (dead coral skeletons, different lava rocks, glass, ceramic tiles and marble tiles).  Both the amount of adhesive tissue and survival over a year were the same except for glass.  Warning about using the right amount of epoxy (too little and frag falls off, too much poisons coral)

Applied Animal Behaviour Science December 2016Volume 185

Kim-McCormack, Nicky NE, Carolynn L. Smith, and Alison M. Behie. “Is interactive technology a relevant and effective enrichment for captive great apes?.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science (2016).

•Digital technology will be increasingly relevant for captive/sanctuary primate enrichment.

•There is a need for a non-habituating, long-term enrichment solution that is dynamic and flexible for each primate under care.

•Digital enrichment overcomes the challenges of traditional non-digital enrichment.

•Changes in methodology alleviated negative behaviours found in previous studies.

•Digital devices offer free-choice, in turn known to reduce stress-related symptoms.

•Potential anthropomorphic views on digital interactive enrichment.


Zoo Biology in Press

Carisch, L., Müller, D. W. H., Hatt, J.-M., Bingaman Lackey, L., Rensch, E. E., Clauss, M. and Zerbe, P. (2016), Seasonal mortality in zoo ruminants. Zoo Biology.

We investigated whether a seasonal signal of mortality exists in wild ruminants kept in zoos, using data from 60,591 individuals of 88 species. We quantified the mortality in the 3 consecutive months with the highest above-baseline mortality (3 MM). 3 MM was not related to relative life expectancy of species, indicating that seasonal mortality does not necessarily impact husbandry success. Although 3 MM was mainly observed in autumn/winter months, there was no evidence for an expected negative relationship with the latitude of the species’ natural habitat and no positive relationship between 3 MM and the mean temperature in that habitat, indicating no evidence for species from lower latitudes/warmer climates being more susceptible to seasonal mortality under zoo conditions. 3 MM was related to reproductive biology, with seasonally reproducing species also displaying more seasonal mortality.


Flacke, G. L., Tkalčić, S., Steck, B., Warren, K. and Martin, G. B. (2016), A retrospective analysis of mortality in captive pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) from 1912 to 2014. Zoo Biology.

The pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) is an IUCN Red List Endangered species (CITES Appendix II) that has been housed in zoological collections since 1912. As wild populations continue to decline throughout the species’ range, successful ex situ breeding and management, including an understanding of morbidity and mortality, are of utmost importance. This study is the first comprehensive review of mortality data from the captive population since 1982 and significantly expands on previous analyses. We solicited necropsy reports from 129/187 zoological institutions worldwide that currently or previously held pygmy hippos and received data for 404 animals (177 ♂, 220 ♀, 7 undermined sex), representing 43% of pygmy hippos that have died in captivity. Mortality in neonates was primarily due to perinatal causes (51.8%—stillbirth, failure to thrive, weakness, poor suckling reflex, maternal neglect) or parent-inflicted trauma (28%). Common causes of mortality in adult and geriatric animals included cardiovascular disease (16%), degenerative musculoskeletal conditions (10%), obstructive gastrointestinal disease (9%), and renal insufficiency (13%), sometimes associated with advanced polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Although not the direct cause of mortality, a number of adult and geriatric pygmy hippos were also overweight to obese. Infectious causes of mortality in included leptospirosis and encephalomyocarditis virus, the latter usually presenting as acute death due to cardiovascular demise. This comprehensive overview presents a useful guide for recommendations in preventative veterinary care and for improved husbandry and management of pygmy hippos in captivity


Shim, H. and Dierenfeld, E. S. (2016), Added dietary vegetables and fruits improved coat quality of capybara in Seoul Zoo, Republic of Korea: A case study. Zoo Biology. 

Adequate levels of dietary vitamin C are necessary for capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrocharis) because they cannot synthesize the vitamin endogenously. Beginning in 2013, hair and weight loss, as well as general dermatitis, were observed in all individual capybaras (n = 4) in a mixed exhibit at Seoul Zoo. Seven additional vegetables, leafy greens, and fruits that increased dietary vitamin C concentration from ∼300–400 to >600 mg/kg dry matter were added to the diet since January 2015. Within 6 months, capybaras’ skin and coats improved considerably, with hair becoming thicker and glossier. Animals visually appeared healthier and gained weight. In conclusion, hair loss, dermatitis, and weight loss in capybara can be improved by feeding enough fresh green leaves, vegetables, and fruits. Although vitamin C is considered a major factor for alleviation of poor body condition observed, increased status of other nutrients (i.e., vitamin B6) provided by the diet change may also have contributed to the improvements seen in the capybara.

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