Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Predictors of Adrenal and Gonadal Hormones in Relation to Biological and Management Factors Among Captive Red Pandas in Indian Zoos

Version 1 : Received: 5 February 2022 / Approved: 7 February 2022 / Online: 7 February 2022 (16:07:29 CET)

How to cite: Khan, A.S.; Brown, J.; Kumar, V.; Umapathy, G.; Baskaran, N. Predictors of Adrenal and Gonadal Hormones in Relation to Biological and Management Factors Among Captive Red Pandas in Indian Zoos. Preprints 2022, 2022020097 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202202.0097.v1). Khan, A.S.; Brown, J.; Kumar, V.; Umapathy, G.; Baskaran, N. Predictors of Adrenal and Gonadal Hormones in Relation to Biological and Management Factors Among Captive Red Pandas in Indian Zoos. Preprints 2022, 2022020097 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202202.0097.v1).

Abstract

Animals in human care are affected by stressors that can ultimately reduce fitness. When reproduction is affected, endangered species’ conservation programmes can be severely compromised. Thus, understanding factors related to stress and reproduction, and measures of related hormones, are important to ensure captive breeding success. Red pandas are endangered and populations in the wild are threatened with extinction. A global captive breeding programme has been launched to conserve the species with the goal of reintroduction. However there is little informaiton on how stressors impact reproductive aspects of the species. This study measured fecal glucocorticoid (fGCM), fecal progestagen (fPM) and fecal androgen (fAM) metabolite concentrations in 12 female and 8 male red pandas (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) at three zoos in northeastern India to determine predictors of adrenal and gonadal steroid activity and the influence of fGCM on reproduction. Results indicated that fGCM concentrations were higher in males than females, and positively correlated with number of visitors, while negatively related to frequency of feedings and enclosure area. Sex, visitor number, frequency of feeding, and enclosure area explained 67% of the variations in fGCM concentrations in the study population. Concentrations of fPM were positively associated with tree density in the enclosure, explaining 47% of the variation among females. For fAM, positive associations were found with frequency of feeding, but concentrations were negatively related to age and number of visitors; these three covariates explained 45% of the variation in fAM concentration among males. Comparison of fGCM with fPM showed a negative trend, indicating increasing adrenal hormones may decrease reproductive function among female red pandas. The study thus suggests that zoo management should consider increasing feeding frequency, providing larger enclosures with more trees, and regulating visitor numbers to reduce stress and increase reproductive fitness among red pandas.

Keywords

Captive breeding; endangered; red panda; reproductive hormone; stress hormone; welfare

Subject

LIFE SCIENCES, Endocrinology & Metabolomics

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