. Creation of a body condition scoring chart for Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) and its use with body weight and length to establish ideal weight ranges for crocodiles at Disney’s Animal Kingdom®.

Citation

Terry M. 2021. Creation of a body condition scoring chart for Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) and its use with body weight and length to establish ideal weight ranges for crocodiles at Disney’s Animal Kingdom®. In Brooks M, Koutsos E, and Henry B Eds. Proceedings of the Fourteenth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Foundation and AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Virtual.

Abstract

Disney’s Animal Kingdom® currently houses a bachelor group of eighteen Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus). Routine exams are conducted annually, at which time measurements of body length, weight, and body condition score for each crocodile are recorded. Body condition scoring has been used as an effective tool to monitor animal wellness and is utilized regularly with other species in the area. Until recently, the body condition scores assigned to the crocodiles were based on non-published guidelines and lacked consistency across users. In 2017, a project was undertaken to create a descriptive body condition score chart for the Nile Crocodiles at Disney’s Animal Kingdom®. Data from the group over the past 10 years was used to create the body scoring guidelines as well as target weight ranges based on animal length. A five-point scale, based on the evaluation of six body areas including the head, neck, forelimbs, torso (ribs and spine), hind limbs, and tail was created. Within these categories, the chart identifies anatomical features to evaluate in order to assign body condition scores. The now standardized guidelines allowed for more consistency within users. Body condition scores were correlated with the biometrics of body weight and length such that the user can predict body weight using the length and body condition score which may be useful in situations where animals cannot be weighed regularly. Species specific notations have been added to the Nile crocodile body scoring chart which may help with the development of a similar resource for other crocodilian species.

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