The Mauritian pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri) is currently classified as endangered, with only 350–400 individuals left in the wild population. Following habitat restoration and control of introduced predators, there are still concerns for its survival due to inbreeding depression. Transfer of individuals carrying genes not represented in the wild population, from the captive population to Mauritius, is planned. Prior to this transfer, a health survey of live birds in the captive European population is being undertaken. In order to guide disease testing, a retrospective mortality review of postmortem records from 1979–2018 was performed to determine which infectious diseases may be of concern. Three hundred seventy postmortem records were obtained from 19 institutions across Europe. Report analysis showed an age division as follows: neonates (<1 month) 42.4%, juveniles (1–12 months) 14.3%, and adults (>1 year) 43.3%. For neonates, 40.8% of deaths were of unknown cause, often due to autolysis, with infectious diseases constituting 12.1%, mostly due to E. coli septicaemia. For juveniles, the most common cause of mortality was suspected metabolic disorders (39.6%), with infectious diseases constituting 3.7% (Candida and Citrobacter). For adults, the most common cause of mortality was trauma (43.1%). This was either self-inflicted, intraspecific or interspecific, with no apparent gender predilection; 20.6% of deaths were due to infectious diseases, which included avian mycobacteriosis, yersiniosis, E. coli and aspergillosis. These results have been used to inform infectious disease screening for the health survey, which will be performed to coincide with routine health checks and handling, to reduce risk of trauma.
The authors would like to thank all the participating institutions for their assistance in data collection. The authors would also like to thank the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Wild Animal Health Fund, Bristol Zoological Society and the British Veterinary Zoological Society Zebra Foundation for their generous grants, without which the next phase of this research project, the health survey, would not be possible.