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Survey of husbandry practices for bovidae in zoos: the importance of parasite management for reintroduction programmes

Abstract

Animals from zoological institutions may be used for reintroductions. These individuals are considered healthy, but they are not necessarily free of parasites, despite the minimum husbandry standards required of zoological institutions as described in the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria guidelines. In this sense, parasitism has been identified as the cause of failure, or has added difficulties, in some reintroduction programmes. Here the authors attempt to summarise the risk of parasitism to animals originating from zoological institutions by analysing a questionnaire about parasite prevalence, sampling methods, treatment and control in three ungulates in European zoos. Completed questionnaires were received from 38 institutions (58.5 per cent response rate). Most of the responding institutions (97 per cent) detected the eggs of endoparasites in faeces, but only one reported ectoparasites. Most institutions followed a similar preventive schedule, with ivermectin as the preferred prophylactic treatment for parasites, commonly administered in food every six months. The frequent use of concentrating flotation techniques as the sole method to evaluate the presence of parasite eggs in faecal samples is not recommended because it fails to detect trematode and lung nematode infections, so it would be better to use flotation techniques together with sedimentation procedures or serological and molecular tests. The results suggest that parasite control in zoological institutions can be complicated, indicating the need to implement a specific management schedule for institutions involved in reintroduction projects.

  • cuvier’s gazelle
  • endangered species
  • mohor gazelle
  • parasites
  • reintroduction projects
  • scimitar-horned oryx
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