Abstract # 34:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 26, 2017 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (National Ballroom AB) Poster Presentation


R. C. Luibicich, S. T. Saiyed and S. R. Ross
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois, USA
     Stillbirths, or births of infants that died in the womb, represent a failure of the maternal-fetal-placental unit to maintain normalcy. What is known about nonhuman primate (NHP) stillbirth patterns is primarily descriptive and often based on studies of macaques. Less is known about other NHP species and more rare still are comparative studies that examine possible factors that influence stillbirth rates. To examine the relationship between demography and stillbirths in great apes, we used historical birth data of American accredited zoo-housed chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes (n=151), gorilla, Gorilla gorilla (n=103), and orangutan, Pongo (n=87), mothers from 1990 to 2016. The average number of births for each of the 341 mothers was 2, resulting in a total of 641 successful births and 91 stillbirths (12%). Stillbirths represented 13% of chimpanzee births, 16% of gorilla births, and 7% of orangutan births. We tested for possible relationships between stillbirth likelihood and mother origin (wild- versus captive-born), age, and species. Mixed effects models found that species, age, and origin did not significantly influence stillbirth likelihood (p > 0.05). While these results are likely influenced by both biological and management-related factors (e.g. selective captive breeding), they may be useful to population managers in evaluating pregnancy risks for great apes. Captive settings and archival studbook data such as these may provide a unique opportunity to further explore this topic.