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Objective—To noninvasively evaluate physiologic postprandial adaptations of the heart in snakes.

Animals—6 juvenile Paraguay anacondas (Eunectes notaeus).

Procedures—The heart of each anaconda was echocardiographically evaluated after food was withheld for 28 days as well as 3 and 10 days after feeding. Physical measurements included body length, weight, and circumference at the level of the heart. Echocardiographic measurements included heart rate and 2-D total and internal ventricular area. From these measurements, total ventricular volume as well as the myocardial area as a surrogate of myocardial mass was calculated.

Results—No significant changes in body length, weight, and circumference were found. Significant increases in heart rate (from 45 to 58 beats/min), total ventricular volume (from 4.63 to 5.54 mL), and myocardial area (from 0.7 to 0.81 cm2) were detected 10 days after feeding, compared with results obtained prior to feeding after food had been withheld for 28 days. No pericardial effusion was detected at any time point.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Echocardiographic evaluation of the heart of anacondas was performed, and feeding resulted in concentric cardiac hypertrophy. Physiologic fluctuation of cardiac dimensions should be considered when cardiac imaging is performed in snakes.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To establish a demographic approach to facilitate the comparison of husbandry success for deer species in zoos and to test for factors that influence the performance of deer species in captivity.

Sample Population—Data collected from 45,736 zoo-kept deer that comprised 31 species.

Procedures—Data had been collected by the International Species Information System during the last 3 decades on zoo-kept deer around the world. The relative life expectancy (rLE) of a species (ie, mean life expectancy as a proportion of the maximum recorded life span for that species) was used to describe zoo populations. The rLE (values between 0 and 1) was used to reflect the husbandry success of a species.

Results—A significant positive correlation was found between the rLE of a species and the percentage of grass in the natural diet of the species, suggesting that there are more problems in the husbandry of browsing than of grazing species. The 4 species for which a studbook (ie, record of the lineage of wild animals bred in captivity) was maintained had a high rLE, potentially indicating the positive effect of intensive breeding management.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—The rLE facilitated the comparison of husbandry success for various species and may offer the possibility of correlating this quotient with other biological variables. Ultimately, identifying reasons for a low husbandry success in certain species may form the basis for further improvements of animal welfare in captivity.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Case Description—3 hornbills (2 Papua hornbills [Aceros plicatus] and 1 longtailed hornbill [Tockus albocristatus]) were evaluated because of general listlessness and loss of feather glossiness.

Clinical Findings—Because hepatic iron storage disease was suspected, liver biopsy was performed and formalin-fixed liver samples were submitted for histologic examination and quantitative image analysis (QIA). Additional frozen liver samples were submitted for chemical analysis. Birds also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) under general anesthesia for noninvasive measurement of liver iron content. Serum biochemical analysis and analysis of feed were also performed. Results of diagnostic testing indicated that all 3 hornbills were affected with hepatic iron storage disease.

Treatment and Outcome—The iron chelator deferiprone was administered (75 mg/kg [34.1 mg/lb], PO, once daily for 90 days). During the treatment period, liver biopsy samples were obtained at regular intervals for QIA and chemical analysis of the liver iron content and follow-up MRI was performed. In all 3 hornbills, a rapid and large decrease in liver iron content was observed. All 3 methods for quantifying the liver iron content were able to verify the decrease in liver iron content.

Clinical Relevance—Orally administered deferiprone was found to effectively reduce the liver iron content in these 3 hornbills with iron storage disease. All 3 methods used to monitor the liver iron content (QIA, chemical analysis of liver biopsy samples, and MRI) had similar results, indicating that all of these methods should be considered for the diagnosis of iron storage disease and monitoring of liver iron content during treatment.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association