Sex Differences in Morbidity and Mortality of Captive Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in North America: A Review of Necropsy Reports (1960–2009)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2011
Cristina C. Escalante1; Nga Nguyen2, PhD; Albert Lewandowski3, DVM
1CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA; 2Department of Anthropology, California State University, Fullerton, CA, USA; 3Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland, Ohio, USA


Tigers (Panthera tigris), who once roamed across Asia, are now endangered and confined to <7% of their historic range.1,2 Of the six surviving subspecies, the Amur tiger (P. t. altaica) suffers from severe genetic and habitat impoverishment.3-8 Managed, captive Amur populations have the potential to infuse genetic diversity into wild populations. The success of captive breeding and reintroduction programs depends upon knowledge of the causes and consequences of disease processes in managed populations. Such information, although vital for developing effective diagnostic or preventative procedures and for subsequent epidemiologic monitoring and control, is scarce. We analyzed 265 Amur tiger necropsy reports (∼1/3 of all reported deaths between 1941–2008) from 61 North American zoos. The cumulative survival curve for males (n=119) did not differ significantly from that for females (n=146) (Kaplan-Meier, log-rank test, p=0.85). We assigned one of 12 primary causes of death or euthanasia (PCDE) to each tiger. Among immature (females: <3 years; males: <4 years), we found few sex differences in the occurrence and prevalence of PCDE, with ∼1/2 of all immature deaths attributed to perinatal causes (30.5%) or trauma (17.1%). However, we found marked sex differences in the occurrence and prevalence of diseases in adults. Among males, degenerative joint diseases (DJD; 31.2%) and neoplasia (29.9%) accounted for similar proportions of 77 deaths. Conversely, among females, neoplasia was the top PCDE, accounting for 46.2% of 106 deaths (with >65% of neoplasias affecting the mammary glands), while DJD accounted for only 8.5% of deaths.


The authors would like to thank Dr. Peter Fashing for his constant support and contributions and Dr. Kathy Traylor-Holzer for making this study possible.

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Speaker Information
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Cristina C. Escalante
CRC Press
Boca Raton, FL, USA

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