Abstract # 125:

Scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2013 12:15 PM-12:30 PM: Session 15 (Auditorium) Oral Presentation


POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TRAINING AS A METHOD OF LONGITUDINAL MILK COLLECTION IN A WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLA (GORILLA GORILLA GORILLA)

E. E. Stromberg1, M. L. Power2 and N. Meese MacCorkle1
1Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington, DC 20008, USA, 2Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Conservation Ecology, Nutrition Lab
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     Great ape infants rely solely on mother’s milk for nutrition for an extended time. Studying lactation in primates is complicated by the difficulty of obtaining milk samples. Anesthesia, restraint, and separation from offspring are risky and may alter milk composition. Mandara, a western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, is a case study of how basic husbandry behaviors were easily modified to provide consistent, fine-grade longitudinal milk samples. Already trained to present her chest to the cage mesh in exchange for a food reward, Mandara allowed manual expression of her mammary glands. Adequate milk samples were obtained within the first few attempts. Samples from 1 to 10 ml have been collected weekly since January 2009 when she delivered her sixth offspring. Samples are banked in the zoo’s milk repository and many have been analyzed for protein, fat, sugar, ash, calcium, phosphorus, adiponectin, epidermal growth factor (EGF), as well as secretory IgA. Mandara is the best studied mammalian female in terms of milk composition. Her milk is similar to human in protein (1.3±0.1%) and sugar (7.1± 0.1%), but lower in fat (1.7±0.1%), EGF (29.7±.9 ng/ml), and adiponectin (4.8±.5 ng/ml). This minimally invasive method of milk collection provides excellent safety for subject and researcher. The training and collection methods are being exported to other zoos to enhance the study of lactation in great apes.