Objective Gait Analysis in Normal and Abnormal Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) Using a Pressure Sensitive Walkway
2018 Joint EAZWV/AAZV/Leibniz-IZW Conference
Julie D. Sheldon1,2, DVM; Michael J. Adkesson1, DVM, DACZM, DECZM (ZHM); Matthew C. Allender3, DVM, PhD, DACZM; Julie A. Balko4, VMD; Ryan S. Bailey1, DVM, DACVAA; Jennifer N. Langan1,5, DVM, DACZM, DECZM (ZHM); Sathya K. Chinnadurai1, DVM, MS, DACZM, DACVAA
1Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL, USA; 2Illinois Zoological and Aquatic Animal Residency Program, Urbana, IL, USA; 3Wildlife Epidemiology Laboratory, Department of Comparative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA; 4Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; 5College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA


Pododermatitis and osteoarthritis are common causes of lameness in penguins under professional care.2,3 Subjective gait analysis using visual observation and response to analgesic therapy can be affected by observer variation and caregiver placebo bias.1 A pressure sensitive walkway (PSW) allows for objective gait analysis and assessment of analgesic therapeutic response; however, such use has yet to be investigated in penguins. A 10-foot long PSWa was used to analyze gait in 21 adult Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti). Medical record reviews and comprehensive examinations were performed on all penguins; five penguins were considered abnormal and analyzed separately from the normal data set due to evidence of pododermatitis or osteoarthritis in the history or physical exam. All penguins walked across the PSW four times and gait parameters (step and stride distances and velocities, maximum force, impulse, and peak pressure) were calculated for each foot in each penguin. Statistical comparisons were made between right and left feet, gender, and between normal and abnormal penguins for each gait parameter. Among normal penguins, there were no significant differences between feet or gender. Only left step width differed between normal and abnormal penguins; the lack of other clinically significant differences between normal and abnormal gait parameters may indicate bilateral disease and/or adequate management in this group. Normal values will be used to objectively monitor progression and response to therapy of current and future cases of lameness in penguins, compare to gait parameters of other penguin populations, and set the groundwork for investigating this methodology in other species.

a. Tekscan Walkway 7 System; Tekscan, South Boston, Massachusetts, USA


The authors would like to thank the animal care staff and veterinary student externs of the Chicago Zoological Society for their care for the birds and help during penguin examinations and walkway assessments.

Literature Cited

1.  Conzemius MG, Evans RB. Caregiver placebo effect for dogs with lameness from osteoarthritis. J Am Vet Med Ass. 2012;241:1314–1319.

2.  Erlacher-Reid C, Dunn JL, Camp T, Macha L, Mazzaro L, Tuttle AD. Evaluation of potential variables contributing to the development and duration of plantar lesions in a population of aquarium-maintained African penguins (Spheniscus demersus). Zoo Bio. 2012;31:291–305.

3.  Reidarson TH, McBain J, Burch L. A novel approach to the treatment of bumblefoot in penguins. J Avian Med Surg. 1999;132:124–127.


Speaker Information
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Julie D. Sheldon, DVM
Illinois Zoological and Aquatic Animal Residency Program
Urbana, IL, USA

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