Kershaw, T., Hall, E. J., Dobbs, P. et al. 2020. An exploration of the value of elective health checks in UK zoo-housed gibbons. Animals 10(12), 2307.

Elective health checks form an important part of the preventative healthcare of many zoo-housed animals. These procedures are not without risk or financial expenditure, meaning careful cost–benefit analysis is required when determining the frequency and intensity with which they are implemented. This study evaluated the value of elective health checks (n = 74) carried out on 33 gibbons at a single UK zoological collection from 2011 to 2018. Data were categorised by health check type, animal age, clinical findings and outcome. Univariable binary logistic regression and multivariable modelling were used to identify factors associated with the likelihood of actionable (clinically significant) outcomes. In total, 51.35% of all elective health checks resulted in an actionable outcome. Elderly heath checks had 13.64 times greater odds of an actionable outcome and 34 times greater odds of a significant radiographic finding, when compared to routine (non-elderly) health checks. Our findings suggest that 75% wild longevity is a suitable threshold for identifying elderly captive gibbons and increasing health check frequency. Whilst further work is needed to ascertain whether these findings can be extrapolated to other collections and/or species, this study demonstrates how the analysis of clinical data can aid in the implementation of an effective and evidence-based preventative healthcare plan.

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