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11 June 2021 RISK FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH YOLK SAC RETENTION IN CAPTIVE-BRED HUMBOLDT PENGUIN (SPHENISCUS HUMBOLDTI) CHICKS
Eleanor L. Taylor, Edmund J. Flach, Taina Strike, Camilla T.O. Benfield, Amanda Ferguson, Simon Spiro, Stamatios A. Tahas
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Abstract

Multiple occurrences of yolk sac retention prompted a retrospective investigation in a recently formed colony of captive Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti). Necropsy reports of 141 parent-reared penguin chicks that died between January 2014 and December 2018 were reviewed for evidence of yolk sac retention, defined as the presence of a yolk sac at postmortem examination of a chick aged 7 d or greater, and analyzed by demographic and pathological variables for identification of risk factors. Fifty-nine (65%) chicks that died at age 7 d or greater had a retained yolk sac at postmortem examination, revealing that this was a common condition in penguins in this population. Chicks that retained their yolk sac were also more likely to present with minimal gut contents (P = 0.02), have a prominent bursa of Fabricius (P < 0.01), and be the first chick hatched of their clutch (P = 0.02). Parental experience and age were not predictive of yolk sac retention, but there was a trend for chicks with retained yolk sacs to present with a poorer body condition, reduced weight, and reduced crown-rump length compared to chicks without a retained yolk sac. Histopathological and bacteriological findings of retained yolk sacs were not significantly different from those of chicks under 7 d of age. Although likely to be multifactorial, the association between yolk sac retention and indicators of suboptimal feed intake and growth (empty gastrointestinal tract, poor body condition score, decreased crown-rump length, and decreased weight at death) is hypothesized to be a result of parental neglect, leading to starvation and absorption arrest of the yolk, as previously indicated in broiler chicks.

Copyright 2021 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
Eleanor L. Taylor, Edmund J. Flach, Taina Strike, Camilla T.O. Benfield, Amanda Ferguson, Simon Spiro, and Stamatios A. Tahas "RISK FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH YOLK SAC RETENTION IN CAPTIVE-BRED HUMBOLDT PENGUIN (SPHENISCUS HUMBOLDTI) CHICKS," Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 52(2), 660-670, (11 June 2021). https://doi.org/10.1638/2020-0212.R1
Accepted: 14 February 2021; Published: 11 June 2021
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