Exhibit Forage Larval Survey for Gastrointestinal Nematodes from Exotic Artiodactylids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge®
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012
Deidre K. Fontenot1, DVM; James E. Miller2, DVM, MPVM, PhD, DACVM (Parasitology)
1Department of Animal Health, Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; 2Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA


Internal nematode parasites are a significant health concern in domestic and non-domestic ruminants resulting in morbidity and mortality. In the southeastern U.S. as well as in other warm, humid climates, this is primarily due to the abomasal worm, Haemonchus spp.1,2 Disney’s Animal Kingdom® and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge® utilize a multifaceted, holistic parasite control program that keeps drug resistance prevention in mind integrating diagnostic tools with strategic parasite control focusing on both animal and environment. One component of this program includes forage larval counts (FLC). Exhibit populations, forage populations, seasonal changes and rain accumulation can all influence what worm populations are present in exhibits.1,2 FLC (expressed in larvae/kg forage dry matter [DM]) is a diagnostic test that identifies “hot zones” for strategic environmental control.2 A 2-year investigation of worm populations on the savannah exhibits at Walt Disney World® using FLC showed variability by exhibit region and season. This information has proven helpful for developing animal collection and exhibit management strategies, fecal removal schedules and savannah forage maintenance, including irrigation strategies. FLC is not an in-house test and requires a partnership with a university parasite laboratory. Fecal sampling and monitoring frequency are program-dependent and may not be critical to an institution’s strategic parasite control program. If testing is indicated, performing monthly or alternate month sampling is recommended for the first year to identify areas of concern. Follow-up annual or biennial testing may be indicated to monitor for any significant change in population trends.


The authors thank the technicians and husbandry teams at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge® for their tireless hours of fecal and forage processing to make this project possible, as well as the technical support team at Louisiana State University parasitology laboratory for sample processing and testing.

Literature Cited

1.  Fontenot, DK, Miller, JE. 2010. Alternatives for gastrointestinal parasite control in exotic ruminants. In: Fowler, M. E., and R.E. Miller (eds.). Zoo & Wild Animal Medicine, 7th ed. WB Saunders Co., Philadelphia, PA. Pp. 581–588.

2.  Kaplan, R. 2006. Reduce the frequency of treatment through the use of sound pasture management, retrieved from http://www.scsrpc.com. (VIN editor: Link not accessible as of 12-18-20).


Speaker Information
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Deidre K. Fontenot , DVM
Department of Animal Health
Disney's Animals, Science and Environment
Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA

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