Japan imports a lot of live animals including livestock. The Animal Quarantine Service, a wing of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, implements import and export inspection based on several laws in order to: i) Promote the livestock industry by preventing and controlling infectious diseases (including parasitic diseases) of domestic animals (Domestic Animal Infectious Diseases Control Law); ii) Improve the public health and promote public welfare by preventing incursions and spreads of rabies and by eradicating them (Rabies Prevention Law) iii) Improve and promote public health by preventing the incursion and spreading of infectious diseases through the measures of prevention of infectious diseases and medical care for patients with infection (The Law Concerning Prevention of Infectious Diseases and Medical Care for Patients of Infections) iv) Promote fisheries by conserving and cultivating fishery resource, and maintaining its effect for a long time (Fishery Resource Conservation Law).
New mission of the OIE on the international wildlife disease notification system was introduced. Main purpose of this WAHIS/Wild system is collecting and presenting the worldwide data of wildlife diseases by OIE to each member country using the WAHIS/Wild database. It is useful for control zoonoses, domestic animal infections derived from wildlife as well as maintain ecosystem and conservation of biodiversity. The basic tactics of the system which was discussed in the ad hoc group of the Working Group of Wildlife Diseases in OIE are summarized. Present situation and problems of wildlife disease notification in Japan were also described here.
The function and the responsibility of the zoo and the social education were discussed in the Annual Meeting of the Society of the Zoo and Wildlife Medicine at Kobe 2008. We must restate that zoos have responsibility to conduct research. Throughout the history of education and academia in Japan, zoos have been separated from academic studies. Because of the military empire before the World War II along with the post-war economic growth, their academic roles were left behind, which led them to be unsuccessful to achieve their status in the field of science. Although liberal and democratic public education was systematically organized after the war in Japan, zoos and museums were cut their ways of pursuing their ideology due to the cold war. As a result, zoos and educational institutions ended up being a part of construction administration or organization where they could not seek any research environment. Academia as well as universities kept ignoring the biases that exist in the study of zoology and the less focus on fundamental science, saw zoos as non-academic institutions and was ignorant in public education. Under the recent political reform policy, which based on seeking profit and entertainment as a part of their roles, zoos have been targeted to undergo rationalization, and seeking science and education have been left behind. Because of the less interest by the political leaderships in the performance of public officers and in education, public education and zoos are separated from their identity and are merely treated as a service industry. Academia including universities, which were to end up failing in a profit-prone management, are suddenly approaching to zoos and public educational affiliates for taking advantage of them as a tool to make profit. We must decide to part from the acts in the past and the sad history, and take responsibility to promote the roles of zoos as a center of academia and education.
Various specimens and materials are pilling up while we are working in the zoo every day. It depends on our attitude to the materials whether these would become "Just waste" or become "Precious specimen and data". "Research in the zoo by the zoo staff" should be possible if it would has the sense of porpose. Everything in the zoo should stimulates the intellectual curiosity. The zoo staff should make the best use of potencial valuable matters or they would become just waste. Moreover, it is necessary for us to advance "Research" because that is one of the social functions of the zoo.
The early research on cetaceans was developed from age determination by biological samples, such as growth layers in teeth, growth rings in ear plugs or reproductive organs collected by commercial whaling. Objects of research were shifted to the stranded or captive cetaceans after moratorium of commercial whaling. Captive dolphins have contributed to not only exhibition but also study. The identifiable captive dolphins are more useful for observation and experiment for long terms. The results in research on reproductive biology captive animals can be applied to the wild. It is difficult to study cognitive science in wild and trained captive animals are also available.
The Holocene extinction is now ongoing at an unprecedented speed due to artificial modifications and destructions of the global environment. We think avoidance of this mass extinction is our urgent problem. So, for ex situ conservation of threatened animals, we are doing researches to elucidate their reproductive physiologies and develop assisted breeding techniques for them in cooperation with Japanese zoos and aquariums. In this review, our academic activities are outlined.
In October 2000, a program was begun in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan to eradicate the small Asian mongoose, Herpestes javanicus. Of the small Asian mongooses captured on Okinawajima Island between January 1999 and March 2003, a total of 2,618 animals were examined and 1,434 ticks were collected from 499 of the animals. Of the total collected, 1,317 ticks were identified as Amblyomma testeudinarium, Haemaphysalis flava, H. formosensis, H. hystricis, and Ixodes granulatus. The dominant species was I. granulatus, which was the only species for which specimens at all developmental stages were collected. The remaining 117 ticks could not be identified. Following the introduction of the small Asian mongoose from India in 1910, the number and range of the mongoose have increased on Okinawajima Island. As the mongoose seems to have become one of the important host species for ticks on this island, it is important to control this non-native species from an epidemiology perspective.
We conducted concurrent behavioral observations and fecal collections 2-7 times a week to examine the relationship between ovarian hormones and sexual behaviors in a captive female snow leopard (Uncia uncia) and a cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). The fecal samples were analyzed by enzyme immunoassay for estrogen levels. We recorded 25 behavior types in the snow leopard, but only one in the cheetah. In the snow leopard, highly significant (P<0.01) Spearman rank-order correlations with fecal estrogen levels were obtained in 12 behavior types such as Locomotion (r_s=0.4305), Flehmen (r_s=0.3905), Sniffing (r_s=0.3588), Rubbing (r_s=0.2988), Lordosis (r_s=0.2621), Pace (r_s=0.2335), Rolling (r_s=0.2285), Prusten (r_s=0.2216), Spraying (r_s=0.1876) and Pursuing (r_s=0.1793), whereas significant (P<0.05) correlations were obtained in Attacking (r_s=0.1732) and Approaching (r_s=0.1423). Both fecal estrogen levels and frequencies of these behaviors in the snow leopard fluctuated seasonally, and peaked during the early winter to late spring breeding season. In the cheetah, Rolling was observed just prior to or during the fecal estrogen peaks, and was significantly correlated to the fecal hormone level (r_s=0.2714, P<0.05). The results suggest that the observation of sex-related behaviors would be useful in predicting optimum mating time in captive snow leopards and cheetahs.
In October 2000, a program was begun in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan to eradicate the small Asian mongoose, Herpestes javanicus. Of the small Asian mongooses captured between October 2000 and April 2004, a total of 2,406 animals were examined and 391 fleas were collected from 224 of the animals. Of the total fleas collected, 370 were identified to the species level and were identified as belonging to a single species, Ctenocephalides felis. The remaining 21 fleas escaped and could not be identified. The wide distribution of this flea species in cat and dog on Okinawajima Island has already been reported. However, this is the first record of fleas collected from mongooses inhabiting Okinawajima Island. As both male and female individuals of C. felis were found on a single mongoose, they can reproduce very easily. This flea species is often cited as the cause of zoonosis, and this study may provide significant information for the prevention of zoonosis. As the mongoose appears to be one of the major host species for the fleas on this island, it is important to control the mongoose population on Okinawajima Island.
For the genetic management of captive Asian tapir, genetic variation of captive individuals was investigated using mitochondrial cytochrome b sequencing. We found two genetic lines: the Indonesian captivity and Malay Peninsula captivity lines. This finding indicates that the Asian tapir might have differentiated into two geographic groups, namely, the Sumatra Island and Malay Peninsula groups. This biogeographic differentiation is also observed in other mammals in this area.
Urinary 8-hydroxyguanosine (8-OHdG), a common biomarker of oxidative stress, was measured in 9 captive western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) by ELISA kit. The data showed that urinary 8-OHdG ranged from 4.3 to 193.1ng/mg creatinine. An individual range of median value was 6.8-52.4ng/mg creatinine. No statistically significant effect was found for infection of protozoan parasites (Balantidium coli and Isospora sp.) without any symptoms (>0.05).
One cirripedian epizoit and several immature amphipod whale louse were obtained from the skin of a killer whale (Orcinus orca) captured in the western North Pacific off Kii Peninsula in 1988. The barnacle was identified to be Xenobalanus globicipitis Steenstrup, 1851 representing the first record from a killer whale, but the whale louse of the genus Cyamus could not be identified to species. Epizoits are not parasitic but to be commensal (e.g. phoresy). It has been suggested that settlement of X. globicipitis and another cirripedian group (the genera Lepas and Conchoderma: Lepadidae) on dolphins might increase because of reduced movement and/or impaired regenerative and immune functioning of the skin prior to death. Hence, monitoring of such cirripedian species is needed.
Recently, we carried out a questionnaire survey on the education of zoo and wildlife medicine in Japanese university. The survey results showed the spectacularly improved lecture on wildlife medicine as compared with a decade ago, however, the practical training has been insufficient or inadequate. Here we released its report to discuss the current state of educational issues for zoo and wildlife medicine.