Kori SSP Donations
As you may know I have solicited donations of flies using Kori and money to send to the nice folks that collect the feathers for us. All the donations have been sent to the Kori SSP Fund at the National Zoo. It has totaled several thousand dollars and it is being put to good use. The following, written by Sara Hallager Co-Chair of the Kori SSP and the person who made this program a reality, giving a brief synopsis of what our donations are doing:
EthoTrak behavior study
A breeding program for the kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) in the United States is managed under the auspices of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums as a Species Survival Plan (SSP) species. The United States SSP captive breeding program for kori bustards aims to maintain populations that are genetically and demographically self-sustaining without relying on continued imports from the wild. In captivity, breeding is currently limited to a few prolific individuals and a greater understanding of the behavioral repertoire of reproductive and non-reproductive individuals is needed. The precise descriptions of kori bustard behaviors can provide a standard that can be used for systematic and quantitative study of kori bustard behavior, both in the wild and in captivity. A greater understanding of kori bustard behavior can help improve breeding success of captive birds and aid future conservation efforts.
A greater understanding of kori bustard interactions with conspecifics, heterospecifics, humans and the environment at other facilities is a necessary first step towards development and implementation of effective captive management practices. Few detailed descriptions of bustard behavior have been published, yet such manuscripts provide a valuable basis for quantitative study of behavior. Several institutions are now participating in a joint behavioral study on kori bustards using software called Ethotrak. Ethotrak is a digital system for collecting behavioral data within zoological institutions. Zoos currently collecting data on kori bustards include: Birmingham Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Dallas Zoo, Living Desert, Miami Metro Zoo, and Smithsonian National Zoological Park, White Oak Conservation Center and Zoo Atlanta. A total of 25 kori bustards are being monitored.
With support from the kori bustard feather project, palm pilots for data collection have been purchased and software support has been funded. Additional funds are needed to bring on additional zoos to increase the sample size.
Assessing Reproductive Parameters in Captive Kori bustards (Ardeotis kori) using Non-invasive Fecal Hormone Analysis
When animals fail to breed in captivity, causes of the failure can often be determined through hormone evaluation. Hormonal evaluations historically used serum, obtained through invasive techniques, which required restraint of the animal. Such testing causes stress and risks affecting the overall health and reproductive status of the individual. Today, reproductive hormones also can be measured without the stress of capture and restraint through analysis of naturally excreted fecal samples.
The development of a self-sustaining population of kori bustards is a priority for the kori bustard Species Survival Plan. Essential to achieving this goal is the need to better understand the factors affecting reproductive fitness in the species. A major challenge currently facing managers is determining why success rates vary between institutions as well as why some birds at successful breeding centers breed while others do not. Although husbandry practices have improved significantly over the past decade, the number of breeding individuals remains small and little is known about the reproductive physiology of these birds. Currently, managers do not fully understand why some birds are breeding and why some are not even when housed under seemingly similar situations. Understanding the relationship between endocrine physiology and reproductive success may yield information on the proximate causes of breeding failure in the species. Such information will be important for improving husbandry practices in the captive population. The objective of this project is to develop baseline information on the reproductive biology of the kori bustard by measuring levels of testosterone and progesterone.
Support from the kori bustard feather project has allowed the assaying of fecal samples collected to date and preliminary results to be obtained. Additional funds are needed to complete the study and publish the results.
It may be selfish on our part in the long run but the more we assist them in their breeding program the more birds there will be for us to receive feathers from in the future.
March 2011 Our recent fund raising has not been in vain. I've just received this good news the from Kori SSP. "We will be purchasing 20 video cameras with your recent fund raising efforts that will be sent to zoos to produce a video husbandry manual. We have the how to's of keeping koris on paper, but having videos and pictures on a DVD will be incredibly useful." The thanks goes to all of us.