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Fecal Glucocorticoid Measurements and Their Relation to Rearing, behavior, and environmental factors in the population of pileated gibbons (Hylobates pileatus) held in European zoos


Pirovino, M; Heistermann, M; Zimmermann, N; Zingg, R; Clauss, Marcus; Codron, D; Kaup, F J; Steinmetz, H W (2011). Fecal Glucocorticoid Measurements and Their Relation to Rearing, behavior, and environmental factors in the population of pileated gibbons (Hylobates pileatus) held in European zoos. International Journal of Primatology, 32(5):1161-1178.

Abstract

Pileated gibbons (Hylobates pileatus) are rated as endangered according to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The captive population suffers from poor breeding success and is threatened to become overaged. Although several factors are likely to contribute to the poor breeding success, one in particular may be chronic stress associated with prolonged periods of high glucocorticoid (GC) output. We investigated fecal GC levels of pileated gibbons (Hylobates pileatus) and their relationship to specific life-history variables and environmental factors. After validation of an enzyme immunoassay for the measurement of 5-reduced 3α,11β-dihydroxy cortisol metabolites to assess GC output reliably in pileated gibbons, we collected fecal samples over several days from all 36 European adult pileated gibbons located in 11 institutions and comparedGC levels to intrinsic individual parameters, husbandry, behavior, and breeding history. Age, sex, and origin (wild vs. captive born) had no effect on GC levels. However, unnaturally reared gibbons had higher GC levels and showed more behavioral abnormalities than parent-reared individuals. Further, nonreproducing gibbons living in a pair without infants had higher GC concentrations than gibbons living in a family, bachelor group, or as singletons. With respect to environmental factors, a large size of the inside enclosure and the existence of visual protection from visitors was associated with lower fecal GC output. The data indicate that rearing and housing conditions appear to correlate to GC levels in pileated gibbons housed under captive conditions. It is hoped this knowledge will support the future management of the species in captivity and thus lead to a more successful breeding of this endangered primate.

Abstract

Pileated gibbons (Hylobates pileatus) are rated as endangered according to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The captive population suffers from poor breeding success and is threatened to become overaged. Although several factors are likely to contribute to the poor breeding success, one in particular may be chronic stress associated with prolonged periods of high glucocorticoid (GC) output. We investigated fecal GC levels of pileated gibbons (Hylobates pileatus) and their relationship to specific life-history variables and environmental factors. After validation of an enzyme immunoassay for the measurement of 5-reduced 3α,11β-dihydroxy cortisol metabolites to assess GC output reliably in pileated gibbons, we collected fecal samples over several days from all 36 European adult pileated gibbons located in 11 institutions and comparedGC levels to intrinsic individual parameters, husbandry, behavior, and breeding history. Age, sex, and origin (wild vs. captive born) had no effect on GC levels. However, unnaturally reared gibbons had higher GC levels and showed more behavioral abnormalities than parent-reared individuals. Further, nonreproducing gibbons living in a pair without infants had higher GC concentrations than gibbons living in a family, bachelor group, or as singletons. With respect to environmental factors, a large size of the inside enclosure and the existence of visual protection from visitors was associated with lower fecal GC output. The data indicate that rearing and housing conditions appear to correlate to GC levels in pileated gibbons housed under captive conditions. It is hoped this knowledge will support the future management of the species in captivity and thus lead to a more successful breeding of this endangered primate.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:21 Oct 2011 13:20
Last Modified:11 Sep 2016 07:46
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0164-0291
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-011-9532-9

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