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Tooth wear in captive rhinoceroses (Diceros, Rhinoceros, Ceratotherium: Perissodactyla) differs from that of free-ranging conspecifics

In: Contributions to Zoology
Authors:
Lucy A. Taylor Bristol Zoological Society, c/o Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton Bristol BS8 3HA UK
School of Biological Sciences University of Bristol Woodland Road Bristol BS8 1UG UK

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Dennis W.H. Müller Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich Winterthurerstr. 260 8057 Zurich Switzerland
National Park ‘Bavarian Forest’ Freyunger Str. 2 94481 Grafenau Germany

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Christoph Schwitzer Bristol Zoological Society, c/o Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton Bristol BS8 3HA UK

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Thomas M. Kaiser Biocenter Grindel and Zoological Museum University of Hamburg Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3 20146 Hamburg Germany

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Daryl Codron Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich Winterthurerstr. 260 8057 Zurich Switzerland
Florisbad Quaternary Research Department National Museum Po Box 266 Bloemfontein 9301 South Africa

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Ellen Schulz Biocenter Grindel and Zoological Museum University of Hamburg Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3 20146 Hamburg Germany

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Marcus Clauss Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich Winterthurerstr. 260 8057 Zurich Switzerland
E-mail: mclauss@vetclinics.uzh.ch

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Open Access

Tooth wear can affect body condition, reproductive success and life expectancy. Poor dental health is frequently reported in the zoo literature, and abrasion-dominated tooth wear, which is typical for grazers, has been reported in captive browsing ruminants. The aim of this study was to test if a similar effect is evident in captive rhinoceros species. Dental casts of maxillary cheek teeth of museum specimens of captive black (Diceros bicornis; browser), greater one-horned (Rhinoceros unicornis; intermediate feeder) and white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum; grazer) were analysed using the recently developed extended mesowear method for rhinoceroses. Captive D. bicornis exhibited significantly more abrasion-dominated tooth wear than their free-ranging conspecifics (p<0.001), whereas captive C. simum exhibited significantly less abrasion-dominated tooth wear, particularly in the posterior cusp of the second molar (p=0.005). In R. unicornis, fewer differences were exhibited between free-ranging and captive animals, but tooth wear was highly variable in this species. In both free-ranging and captive D. bicornis, anterior cusps were significantly more abrasiondominated than posterior cusps (p<0.05), which indicates morphological differences between cusps that may represent functional adaptations. By contrast, tooth wear gradients between free-ranging and captive animals differed, which indicates ingesta- specific influences responsible for inter-tooth wear differences. Captive D. bicornis exhibited more homogenous tooth wear than their free-ranging conspecifics, which may be caused by an increase in the absolute dietary abrasiveness and a decrease in relative environmental abrasiveness compared to their freeranging conspecifics. The opposite occurred in C. simum. The results of this study suggest that diets fed to captive browsers are too abrasive, which could result in the premature loss of tooth functionality, leading to reduced food acquisition and processing ability and, consequently, malnourishment.

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