Black rhinos in zoos suggested to improve diet and bloodletting

Black rhinos were predisposed to excessive accumulation of iron in organs and tissues. In captivity, this leads to the development of inflammation and oxidative stress, which in turn amplify disorder of iron metabolism. As noted in an article for the journal PLoS ONEthat black rhinos in captivity to remain healthy, it is necessary to strictly monitor their diet and make a prophylactic bloodletting.

Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis) are among the species on the verge of extinction. The main threat is poaching for their horns, which in Eastern medicine to have healing properties. In an attempt to save this kind of specialists take enormous effort. Some of them are aimed at the conservation of wild populations and the breeding of black rhinos in zoos.

Unfortunately, in captivity these animals are often sick. Many individuals suffer from diseases that have never been found nor their wild relatives, nor representatives of close species — white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum). Among the most common of these is hemochromatosis excessive accumulation of iron in the body.

Zoologists and veterinarians do not know why zoo black Rhino differ in such poor health. To understand this issue decided by a team of researchers headed Ane Puiwa (Hanae Pouillevet). They suggested that black rhinos there is a link between hemochromatosis, inflammation and oxidative stress. To confirm this hypothesis, the researchers analyzed blood samples taken from 15 black and only 29 white rhinos from European zoos.

The comparison showed that the iron concentration in the serum of black rhinos was significantly higher than in whites (p < 0.01). These results correlate with greater values of markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in this species, including the activity of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT) and creatine kinase (ck).

According to the authors, black rhinos are prone to excessive accumulation of iron. On the background of developed inflammation and oxidative stress, which, in turn, further disrupt the metabolism of iron. The result of progresses, not only hemochromatosis, but side effects of a type of fibrosis of organs.

Thus, the predisposition to the accumulation of iron in tissues and organs may be the cause of a whole range of health problems which face black rhinos in captivity. To avoid them, the researchers propose a series of preventive measures, including diet with low iron content and regular therapeutic phlebotomy.

White rhinos are more prosperous than black. However, the Northern subspecies was on the brink of extinction: after the death of the last male survived only two females. In a desperate attempt to save the species zoologists managed to freeze the sperm of males and are now trying to use it for artificial insemination. As it became known earlier this year, managed to get at least three viable embryos.

Sergey Knee High

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