Conditioning of Nyala (Tragelaphus angasi)
to blood sampling in a crate with positive reinforcement

Zoo Biology, volume 14 (1995) page 261-273

Temple Grandin, Matthew B. Rooney, Megan Phillips,
Richard C. Cambre, Nancy A. Irlbeck, and Wendy Graffam

Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University,
Fort Collins, ( T.G., M.B.R., N.A.I., W.G. ), and
Denver Zoological Gardens, Denver ( R.C.C., M.P.), Colorado

Habituation and positive reinforcement procedures were successfully used for low stress blood sampling of nyala (Tragelaphus angasi) at the Denver Zoological Gardens.

Four adult females and three offspring were conditioned with a food reward, to voluntarily enter a plywood crate for bimonthly blood sampling from the rear leg. Habituated and conditioned, non-sedated nyala could also be given intramuscular injections and be palpated on the udder and abdomen.

Successful blood sampling of an antelope.

Conditioning and habituation were done slowly and carefully over a period of 3 months to avoid frightening the animals or causing a dangerous escape attempt.

All animals remained calm during both conditioning and blood sampling procedures.

Investing the time and effort to train the nyala to crate handling resulted in improved animal welfare and blood samples that were not confounded by stress.

The nyala were trained for a vitamin E supplementation study.

In captivity, nyala often suffer from myopathy due to vitamin E deficiency. This made it possible to accurately measure vitamin E levels, which will aid nutritionists in determining supplementation levels.

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