Quarantine Considerations During Coordination of a Multi-Institutional Shipment of Temperate and Antarctic Penguins to the Kansas City Zoo
The Kansas City zoo opened the Helzberg penguin plaza exhibit in October 2013. Forty-four penguins, including six king (Aptenodytes patagonicus), 23 gentoo (Pygoscelis papua), four rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome), and 11 Humboldt (Spheniscus humboldti) along with coral reef, schooling teleosts, and various invertebrates were obtained from six other institutions and private hobbyist suppliers.
A medical background questionnaire and pre-testing requests were sent to each institution several months prior to shipment. A complete physical exam including weight, direct ophthalmoscopy, tonometry, thermography, whole body radiographs, choanal swabs for Mycoplasma sp. and Chlamydophila sp., blood samples for a complete blood cell count, select sera chemistries, direct evaluation for Haemoproteus sp., fecal ova and parasite exam, vaccination, microchip placement, calculation of dietary needs, and supplementation were performed for each bird. Itraconazole and tetracycline hydrochloride were initiated with each bird upon arrival, and all Humboldt penguins were continued or initiated on antimalarials.
Radiographic evaluation demonstrated four birds with metallic foreign bodies; three within the ventriculus and one that penetrated the ventriculus into the coelom. Additionally, several older birds were diagnosed with degenerative osteoarthritis and pododermatitis.
All 44 birds tested negative for Chlamydophila. Twenty-six of the 44 birds tested positive for two species of Mycoplasma, which has not been previously reported in penguins. All birds were treated until tests were negative for Mycoplasma.
The coordination of such a large-scale receipt of animals presents significant logistical, political, and medical challenges for quarantine and health assessment. Close communication with all parties involved is integral to success.