Article Text

Perinatal mortality and season of birth in captive wild ungulates
  1. JK Kirkwood,
  2. CD Gaskin and
  3. J Markham

Abstract

The magnitude of perinatal mortality in 50 species of captive wild ungulates born at the Zoological Society of London's collections at Regent's Park and Whipsnade between 1975 and 1985 is reviewed. Thirty-five per cent of 2471 ungulates born during this 11 year period died before six months old and most deaths occurred in the first week after birth. Similar findings have been reported at other zoos and in the wild. The seasonal distribution of births is described in 43 species. Significantly higher perinatal mortality was found in species which breed throughout the year (notably axis deer and sitatunga) than in seasonal breeders, and differences associated with system of management were apparent in some species (eg, mouflon and scimitar-horned oryx) kept at Regent's Park and Whipsnade. Considerable advances have been made in the management of captive wild ungulates in recent years but it is likely that perinatal mortality rates could be further reduced by improved management and veterinary care of the dams and neonates.

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