One of our primary project goals on our Pygmy Hippo project is to gain an understanding of their reproductive biology to enable us to optimize the breeding management of this species. Up until now our method of measuring the hippos’ hormone levels has been to collect and analyse their poo. This is quite a laborious, not to mention smelly, process that involves a lot of lab processing for each sample.
Together with Willem Schaftenaar and colleagues from Rotterdam Zoo, we have been working on a new approach that allows us to collect samples more easily, and process them in the lab more quickly and cheaply. This involves collecting saliva, rather than faeces, from the hippos. The video below demonstrates how its done.