Abstract # 170:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 08:00 PM-08:30 PM: Session 15 (Shell Room) Roundtable


D. G. Lindburg
SAN DIEGO ZOO, P.O. BOX 120551, San Diego, CA 92112-0551, USA

When, for ethical and practical reasons, zoos could no longer harvest the wild to sustain their collections, they turned to the captive breeding of stock on hand. This strategic decision opened the door for scientific inquiry in a number of disciplines, including genetics, behavior, nutrition, physiology, veterinary medicine, ecology and even systematics. Today, some zoos have stand-alone research departments; yet others are more directly integrated with animal management or are the solo efforts of the individual scientist. Although zoo scientists work within institutions whose legitimacy is under constant challenge and whose efforts are too often underfunded, the profession has witnessed remarkable growth in scope of endeavors and in merit of the product produced. As Duane Rumbaugh speaks of a time when he, as a college professor, approached the San Diego Zoo for an opportunity to conduct research on its great apes, I came in from the academy years later as a department head, focused on applied science. In this report I provide snapshots of zoo-based research involving three endangered mammals: the lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), and the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). An example is work with Macaca silenus, indicating unique forms of soliciting behavior such as a non-copulatory vocal signal that occurs only during the follicular phase of estrous cycles.