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Vets Advancing Animal Care

Puerto Rican Crested Toads

The Puerto Rican crested toad is undergoing serious population decline. These toads live only in a specific type of rock formation. These rock formations form from soluble rocks and are common features in caves, sinkholes, and natural drainage systems. As human land use continues to expand in Puerto Rico, these formations are often destroyed. The North Carolina Zoo has taken an active role in Puerto Rican crested toad conservation by housing a colony of several hundred toads in order to study their behavior, establish husbandry protocols and improve veterinary care. The zoo is also providing samples which will be used to sequence the Puerto Rican crested toad genome. Once sequenced, these genetic data will allow scientists in the field to track individual toads as they mature and migrate, providing a better understanding of their habitat needs.

Improving Animal Care while In Transit

In order to keep zoo animal populations healthy and to maintain natural groups of animals, zoos often move individuals from one zoo to another. In order to make this process as stress-free as possible for the animal travelers, the North Carolina Zoo is conducting a research project to carefully document the environmental changes animals may experience while in transit. Our veterinary team place computerized data collectors, which record information on temperature, movement, location and time of day, into empty animal shipping crates and then sendthem across the country. The data recorders will show the vet team precisely the kinds of environmental changes the animals encounter during transit. The study will also examine how different types of bedding can help keep traveling animals more comfortable. Results from this study will help us to provide even better care for animals when they travel from zoo to zoo.

The Best Anesthetic for Blue Crabs

Blue crabs play important roles in their ecosystems, both as predators and as prey for other species. The crabs are also an important source of income for fisherman in North Carolina and several other Atlantic states. Due to their economic importance they are often the focus of research studies, which require them to be handled, restrained, and occasionally, anesthetized. North Carolina Zoo veterinary resident Dr. J.B. Minter led a study with colleagues from NC State University to determine the effects Alfaxalone (an anesthetic drug) has on blue crabs. While many different anesthesia methods have been studied in crustaceans and other invertebrates, most of them are considered to be subpar. Dr. Minter’s study showed that Alfaxalone is a good alternative for blue crab anesthesia, potentially improving anesthesia practices when working with blue crabs and other crustaceans.