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Disease and mortality among great bustards (Otis tarda) at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, 1989 to 1999
  1. T. A. Bailey, BSc, BVSc, MSc, PhD, CertZooMed, MRCVS1 and
  2. E. J. Flach, MA, VetMB, MSc, DZooMed, MRCVS1
  1. 1 Veterinary Department, Zoological Society of London, Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU6 2LF

Abstract

Between 1989 and 1999,351 clinical examinations and six postmortem examinations were made on the six great bustards (Otis tarda) maintained at the Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. Soft tissue-related traumatic injuries accounted for 35 per cent of all the clinical findings, musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 26 per cent, and lameness was one of the main reasons for a veterinary examination. Poor condition accounted for 30 per cent of the clinical findings and was associated with periods of cold wet weather during the winter and spring; the affected birds were isolated and provided with nutritional support. Haemosiderosis and haemochromatosis were observed in four of the five birds from which samples were taken for histopathology.

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