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Zoo ruminants


Johne’s disease has been diagnosed in many zoos and the infection threatens some very valuable animal collections. In response to this threat, a meeting of concerned zoo veterinarians and managers was held at the White Oak Conservation Center, Yulee, FL in 1998. The White Oak Proceedings laid the groundwork for an organized way to limit spread of MAP among zoological institutions. Specific control measures must be carefully tailored to each institution.

This publication contains a table listing 28 nondomestic animals that have been diagnosed with Johne’s disease: H. Steinberg. Johne’s disease (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis) in a Jamela Topi (Damaliscus lunatus jimela). The Journal of Zoo Animal Medicine 19(1/2):33-41, 1988. [Available from JSTOR]

The images below show just some of the MAP-susceptible zoological species that have been diagnosed with Johne’s disease. The names of institutions where these MAP-infected animals resided is withheld.


Topi (Damaliscus lunatus jimela)

The topi prefers certain grasslands in arid and savanna biomes. Human hunting and habitat destruction have further isolated their population. The following countries have been found to contain topi: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Topi live primarily in grassland habitats ranging from treeless plains to savannas.

Healthy Topi (Damaliscus lunatus jimela) – Charles J Sharp [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Impala (Aepyceros melampus)

The impala is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The sole member of the genus Aepyceros, it was first described to European audiences by German zoologist Hinrich Lichtenstein in 1812. Two subspecies are recognised—the common impala, and the larger and darker black-faced impala.

Black-faced impala (Aepyceros melampus petersi) male, Etosha National Park, Namibia. Charles J Sharp [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Thomson’s gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii)

Thomson’s gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii) is one of the best-known gazelles. It is named after explorer Joseph Thomson and is sometimes referred to as a “tommie”. Thomson’s gazelles can be found in numbers exceeding 550,000 in Africa and are recognized as the most common type of gazelle in East Africa. The Thomson’s gazelle can reach speeds of 50–55 miles per hour (80–90 km/h). It is the fifth-fastest land animal, after the cheetah (its main predator), pronghorn, springbok, and wildebeest.

Health Thomson’s Gazelle – By Rob & Dani – Thomson’s Gazelles – Ngorongoro Crater, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3966250

Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis)

Springbok inhabit the dry areas of south and southwestern Africa. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources classifies the springbok as a least concern species. No major threats to the long-term survival of the species are known; the springbok, in fact, is one of the few antelope species considered to have an expanding population. They are popular game animals, and are valued for their meat and skin. The springbok is the national animal of South Africa. The animal shown below has clinically obvious Johne’s disease and was photographed at a zoo in the U.S.

Springbok with clinical signs of Johne’s disease. Photo by M.T. Collins.

Nyala (Tragelaphus angasii)

The nyala is a spiral-horned antelope native to southern Africa. The coat is rusty or rufous brown in females and juveniles, but grows a dark brown or slate grey, often tinged with blue, in adult males. Females and young males have ten or more white stripes on their sides. Only males have horns. The nyala feeds upon foliage, fruits and grasses, with sufficient fresh water. A shy animal, it prefers water holes rather than open spaces. The nyala’s range includes Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

Female Nyla (Tragelaphus angasii) with Johne’s disease. Photo at a U.S. zoo by M.T. Collins.

Pudú (Pudu puda

The pudús are two species of South American deer from the genus Pudu, and are the world’s smallest deer. The name is a loanword from Mapudungun, the language of the indigenous Mapuche people of central Chile and south-western Argentina. The two species of pudús are the northern pudú (Pudu mephistophiles) from Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, and the southern pudú (Pudu puda) from southern Chile and south-western Argentina. Pudús range in size from 32 to 44 centimeters (13 to 17 in) tall, and up to 85 centimeters (33 in) long. As of 2009, the southern pudu is classified as near threatened, while the northern pudu is classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. MAP infections have been diagnosed in both free-ranging captive pudú. D. González-Acuña et al. reported the first cases of paratuberculosis in Southern Pudu deer in Chile: First report of paratuberculose in Southern Pudu

Mother pudu and baby.