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1 December 2017 FECAL CORTISOL LEVELS IN SCIMITAR-HORNED ORYX, ORYX DAMMAH, REVEALS DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CAPTIVE ENVIRONMENTS
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Abstract

Due to the intensive management of the scimitar-horned oryx, Oryx dammah, involving both captivity and reintroductions, understanding the stress associated with environmental situations this endangered species might experience would be particularly helpful. Fecal cortisol levels were measured across seasons, between captive management programs, and among varying reproductive states in animals held at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (FRWC) and Kansas City Zoo (KCZ). A total of 72 samples were collected from FRWC and 69 samples were collected from KCZ. The herd size and sex ratio changed for both locations in the middle of sampling due to translocations and birth. The herd sizes ranged from 25 to 28 individuals at FRWC and 22 to 24 individuals at KCZ. An ELISA was optimized and utilized to investigate fecal cortisol variances across seasons, captive management programs, and among varying reproductive states. Fecal cortisol levels ranged from 68.9 to 668.7 pg/g throughout this study, but key differences were found in response to reproductive status, environmental conditions, and social status. The highest level of fecal cortisol measured (668.7 pg/g) was in a pregnant female 9 days prior to parturition. During winter months, an increase in fecal cortisol levels occurred in both herds (FRWC 160.3 pg/g to 335.1 pg/g and KCZ 118.8 pg/g to 505.0 pg/g). In addition, when intact males were held together in an enclosure, the dominant males had lower fecal cortisol levels compared with submissive males during three of the four sampling periods. Understanding how these data relate to the physiologic stress response will require further study, but these results can be utilized to help establish expected fecal cortisol ranges in multiple environments and can aid current captive scimitar-horned oryx management programs, as well as future reintroduction efforts.

Copyright 2017 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
Cassandra D. Pauling, Scott E. Lankford, and Victoria L. Jackson "FECAL CORTISOL LEVELS IN SCIMITAR-HORNED ORYX, ORYX DAMMAH, REVEALS DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CAPTIVE ENVIRONMENTS," Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 48(4), 1049-1057, (1 December 2017). https://doi.org/10.1638/2016-0087R2.1
Accepted: 1 July 2017; Published: 1 December 2017
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