Retrospective Review of Leg Fracture Cases in Estrildidae Finches in a Free-Flight Exhibit
The National Aquarium, Baltimore maintains a collection of 10 Estrildidae finch species in a 6,000 m2 (65,000 sq ft) mixed-species, walk-through exhibit. A retrospective review of femur, tibiotarsal, and tarsometatarsal fracture cases was conducted to evaluate the species most affected and success rate (defined as a return to exhibit). External coaptation (EC) and amputation were compared for case duration (defined as time from initial exam to exhibit release) and time on exhibit post-release.
Between January 1, 2005 and April 1, 2012, there were 40 cases in a cumulative population of 769 birds (5.2% prevalence). Gouldian finches (Erythrura gouldiae) were most affected, representing 35% (14/40) of the cases and the highest individual species prevalence at 16.3% (14/86), but were only the third most common species in the population at 11.2% (86/769).
Of the 40 cases, two were seen on exhibit and healed without intervention, 12 were found dead/euthanized within 48 hours, and 26 were caught and managed with EC (n=17) or amputation (n=9). For this subset, success rate was 76.9% (20/26). For these 20 cases, the mean case duration was 43.9 d for EC and 32.0 d for amputation cases. The mean time on exhibit post-release was 732.7 d for EC and 387.9 d for amputation cases.
Both treatment strategies resulted in release of birds back to exhibit with a mean time on exhibit post-release over 1 year. If distal limb viability is questionable or joint involvement is extensive, amputation is a viable treatment for exhibit birds.