Evaluation of an odour detection dog for non-invasive pregnancy diagnosis in polar bears (Ursus maritimus): Considerations for training sniffer dogs for biomedical investigations in wildlife species (Curry et al., 2021)
Can odour detection dogs identify pregnancy in faecal samples from zoo-housed polar bears? A study in JZAR found the following:
✔The dog accurately ignored faecal samples from non-pregnant females during testing (high specificity);
✔However, the dog only accurately identified faecal samples from pregnant females in the training sessions - it failed during testing (low sensitivity);
✔Potential reasons discussed: perhaps dog was unable to generalise odour to novel pregnancies?
Calibrating tri-axial accelerometers for remote behavioural observations in Bewick’s swans (Nuijten et al., 2020).
Zoo Research can be a great tool in the study of wild individuals! New paper out in JZAR described how the calibration of accelerometer sensors was done in captive Bewick's swans and then subsequently used on free-living animals: ✔Overall accuracy of 91% across five behavioural classes; ✔Classification used to generate activity budgets of wild individuals, which showed high accuracy.
Zoo animals as “proxy species” for threatened sister taxa: Defining a novel form of species surrogacy (Kerr, 2020)
New paper in Zoo Biology discusses how the large number of non-threatened species housed in zoos can still play a big role in conservation: ✔They can be used as "proxy species" for threatened sister taxa that are not common or present in zoo collections; ✔This can be considered a new form of surrogacy, giving conservation value to zoo animals even when they are not threatened in the wild.
Ex situ options for cetacean conservation (IUCN SSC, 2020)
The IUCN Species Survival Commission released the "Ex situ options for cetacean conservation" report, based on a workshop that took place in 2018 at Tiergarten Nürnberg. The report is extensive and detailed, but here are some interesting conclusions: ✔Several cetacean species suffered swift & drastic declines; ✔Current gaps in knowledge & information need to be urgently filled, in order to better anticipate & avoid extinctions; ✔Noticeable improvement in the breeding and care of bottlenose dolphins in captivity - knowledge that is potentially transferable to other species; ✔Zoo & aquariums have skills & resources that are valuable for integrated conservation actions.
How many bird and mammal extinctions has recent conservation action prevented? (Bolam et al., 2020)
New study measured the degree of extinction preventions in bird & mammal species, since 1993: ✔21-32 bird extinctions prevented; ✔7-16 mammal extinctions prevented; ✔Extinction rates would have been 2.9–4.2x higher without conservation; ✔Zoos among organisations behind these conservation actions
Artificial eyespots on cattle reduce predation by large carnivores
(Radford et al., 2020)
Because we love ALL science, in and outside the zoo, here is a fascinating study on livestock predation... It was found that: ✔Cattle painted with eyespots are safer from predators (lions & leopards) than both cross-marked & unmarked cattle; ✔Cross-marked cattle showed higher survival from predators than unmarked cattle; ✔Artificial marks have the potential to reduce livestock predation.