Takin, an ungulate native to the mountainous regions in the Himalayan Mountains and western China, are classified as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List.1 Declining populations in the wild are attributed to habitat loss and over-hunting.1 Morbidity and mortality studies of this species are limited to populations under human care. The objective of this study was to identify common and significant causes of morbidity and mortality in captive takin populations and to determine how various factors (e.g., age, diet, herd size) influence these incidences. This information will inform takin-holding zoologic institutions and contribute to the successful management of takin in human care. A survey was completed by 16 North American institutions that currently, or previously, housed takin from 1997 to 2017. There were a total of 227 different morbidity incidences submitted across 126 different takin. Data were examined broadly and within the following age groups: neonate (<1 week; n=32), juvenile (1 week–1 year; n=34), adult (1–10 years; n=112), geriatric (>10 years, n=49). The most common causes of morbidity based on body systems were musculoskeletal (n=56; 25%), gastrointestinal tract (n=25; 11%), respiratory (n=10; 4%), and reproductive (n=10; 4%). When considering morbidities independent from body systems, trauma (n=29; 13%), infectious diseases (n=14; 6%), and parasitism (n=12; 5%) were the most common to affect captive takin. The most common morbidities based on age were trauma in neonates (n=7; 22%) and juveniles (n=8; 24%), and musculoskeletal disease in adults (n=33; 29%) and geriatrics (n=13; 27%). This is the first comprehensive study of the causes of morbidity and mortality in takin populations in human care in North America.
The authors would like to thank Albuquerque Biological Park, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Edmonton Valley Zoo, Lee Richardson Zoo, Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden, Minnesota Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Parc Safari, Potawatomi Zoo, Pueblo Zoo, Red River Zoo, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Rosamond Gifford Zoo, San Diego Zoo, and The Wilds for their collaboration in filling out the morbidity and mortality survey, as well as providing any pertinent medical records.
1. Song Y-L, Smith AT, MacKinnon J. Budorcas taxicolor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T3160A9643719. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/3160/9643719 (VIN editor: Original link was modified as of 5-4-19).