From freezing Asian elephant semen to reducing stress in transported tigers, Dr. Laura Graham and her students are trying to make a difference in the lives of zoo animals. The group strives to correct some of the wrong we as humans have imposed on wildlife populations through habitat loss and over hunting.
Image Left: Asian Elephants at African Lion Safari part of Danielle Arnold's study.
Image Below: Danielle Arnold processing samples in the field.
Dr. Graham's MSc students are hard at work finding ways to help wild life in captivity. Danielle Arnold has found a way to successfully freeze Asian elephant semen a task that has been difficult for researchers thus far. By freezing elephant semen while retaining its viability, gametes can be transported around the world to increase genetic material available for species conservation breeding plans. This is amazing because elephants themselves don't need to be moved to breed which is a very costly and stressful process. Danielle will be presenting an abstract on her research results at the International Elephant and Rhino Conservation and Research Symposium at Pittsburgh Zoo in August.
Image Below: Amur tigers at Columbus Zoo
Andrea Nace, has been working on discovering the potential stress reducing effects of a commercial feline pheromone on transported tigers. The product is Feliway and its cat calming effects are known when it comes to our little house pet friends. Andrea is trying to see if it has applications for reducing stress in transported big cats of the tiger variety. After the lab's previous success with Feliway and cheetahs, this work will add to the understanding of the scope of big cat applications for the product. Since zoo animals are transported from time to time for breeding, health examinations and other reasons, reducing the stress on the animals at that time is a very valuable tool for zoos everywhere. The relatively low cost of the product makes it a practical easily implemented option for increasing the welfare of transporting cats.
Even though the Dept. of Animal and Poultry Science research is focused in agriculture, there is also research activity occurring in the zoo animal setting which is cutting edge and improves the lives of these animals as well. The broadness of animal research here continues to grow and provide opportunities for our students and faculty.
Above Image: Enzyme Linked Immuno-Assay for detecting cortisol stress hormone in the blood.
APS News: Friday August 16, 2013 - By: Judy Stryker
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