The Influence of Giraffe Behavior on Parasite Load: Impact of Husbandry Modifications at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Citation

Arnold N, Cain A, Rowland R, Steele S, Martel C, Burton M, Bissell H. 2017. The Influence of Giraffe Behavior on Parasite Load: Impact of Husbandry Modifications at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. In Ward A, Coslik A, Brooks M Eds. Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Foundation and AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Frisco, TX.

Abstract

Haemonchus contortus is a gastrointestinal parasite that lives in the abomasal mucosa of ruminants. Similar to cattle, giraffe housed in warm climates are prone to parasitism by stronglyes such as Haemonchus contortus. At Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida a behavioral study and retrospective parasite survey was conducted to determine if a correlation exists between giraffe behavior, feeding methods, and parasite load. Fifteen giraffe were observed to determine the proportion of observations they spent engaged in risky behaviors (i.e., grazing on the ground) vs. non-risky behaviors (i.e., feeding from elevated feeders). The fecal egg count and proportion of risky behaviors were strongly correlated. However, efforts to alter the proportion of risky behaviors by feeding more browse in a variety of elevated feeders were unsuccessful in changing the overall proportion of risky behaviors. Other techniques to discourage risky behaviors and encourage safe feeding behaviors need to be explored.

[Bissell1] Giraffe Parasite-Behaviorv4.pdf     1 MB

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