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Coraciiformes SSP Annual Report


Veterinary Advisors:  Changes this year included dividing the order (hornbills, non-hornbills) to facilitate quicker responses and facilitate long-term planning for veterinary concerns.  A newly formed SSP requested a specific veterinary advisor role.  Pathology and nutrition queries may be directed to the veterinary advisors for the foreseeable time.

Kathryn C. Gamble DVM, MS, DACZM          Stephanie B. James, DVM, DACZM

Coraciiformes TAG ¨C Hornbills                   Coraciiformes TAG ¨C non-Hornbills

Buceros SSP

Lincoln Park Zoo                                   Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo

Director of Veterinary Services                   Clinical Veterinarian

2001 North Clark Street                        2300 Southern Blvd.

Chicago, IL 60614                               Bronx, NY 10460

Ph:  312.742.7722                              Ph:  718.220.7104

Fx:  312.742.7823                              Fx:  718.220.7126                      


Micronesian Kingfisher:  This portion of the TAG remains unchanged in advisory roles.

Randall E. Junge, DVM, MS, DACZM              Donald K. Nichols, DVM, DACVP

SSP Veterinary Advisor                              SSP Pathology Advisor

St. Louis Zoo                                         National Zoological Park

Senior Staff Veterinarian                        Pathologist

One Government Drive                       3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW

St. Louis, MO 63110                               Washington, D.C. 20008

Ph:  314.781.0900, ext. 487                            Ph:  202.673.4869

Fx:  314.647.7969                              Fx:  202.673.4660                         


Health Updates:

  • Veterinary Advisory Group (VAG) recommendations for pre-shipment and quarantine of Coraciiformes, including a supplement of avian tuberculosis sensitive species, was completed this year (Gamble) and reviewed by all veterinary advisors.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the casque in Buceros bicornis (giant or greater hornbill) has become an established veterinary concern with efforts not only directed at detection and treatment but also (see future projects) origin.  The Internal Casque Anatomy Project (see project status) provided significant assistance to treatment of the most recent case.

Health alerts were provided by the listserve: male predominant (but two female cases), long-term captives, northern and southern zoos, and indoor and outdoor housing. 

Eight animals have been confirmed with the condition and a ninth is suspected.  Despite several treatment regimens and aggressive care, the condition has been fatal in seven of the eight confirmed cases; the eighth is under heroic surgical debridement and anti-neoplastic regimens at writing. 

If this condition is suspected, please contact Dr. Gamble ASAP to discuss diagnostics, treatments, and after-care to facilitate standard of care.


  • West Nile Virus:  Serology (2001-2002, 2003 will be available next year) results were skewed to hornbills.  Positive serology was limited in number and scope, only in greater hornbills (Buceros bicornis) (2 of 9) and ¡°hornbills¡± (species not specified) (1 of 9).  Additional species surveyed are:  ground hornbill (species unspecified) (5), white-crested hornbill (2), Blythe¡¯s hornbill (1), rhino hornbill (5), wrinkled hornbill (1), wreathed hornbill (1), concave-casque hornbill (6), red-billed hornbill (1), blue-crowned mot mot (2), kookaburra (5), Australian kingfisher (2), red-bellied roller (2), and lilac-breasted roller (1).  Vaccination conversion results are not yet available.

Serology and tissues will be accepted by Cornell (gratis) from birds with abnormal health status and housed in states that have not yet had WNV confirmed.  Serology should be banked from vaccination procedures and opportunistic restraints.

  • 1.0 Wrinkled Hornbill (Aceros corrugatus) developed severe, fatal proventricular dilatation that was ultimately associated with Tetrameres sp. infestation.  This spirurid parasite is typically found in the ingluvium (crop) or proventriculus of waterfowl and pigeons.  It requires an intermediate invertebrate host to complete its life cycle.  Diagnosis would be from collection of the parasite or biopsy of the affected organ.
  • Microfiliaria was reported in a blue-crowned mot mot (Momotus momota)


Project Status:

  • Coraciiformes TAG Bibliography (Gamble)

This project has completed its first year and logged 282 citations in an easily searched spreadsheet format for hornbills (Asian and African), kingfishers, mot mots, and mixed taxa.  It can be printed in its entirety as 8.5¡± x 14¡± pages from the TAG website (veterinary section).   If a specific citation is needed, an e-mail request can be provided to Dr. Gamble to obtain it.

In the upcoming year, volunteers will continue on the project assembling similar listings for rollers, hoopoes, woodhoopoes, todies, and bee-eaters, completing the citation catalogue for another three-foot drawer of citations, obtaining copies of searched citations, and translating foreign language citations to English.  The database is maintained as current by regular database searching; however, this will be even simpler, if assistance from holding institutions is provided as copies of Coraciiformes-related literature as it is published.

Appreciation is extended to the Dallas Zoo Docents for a $200 grant that assisted with bibliography start-up funding. 


  • Internal Anatomy of the Hornbill Casque (Gamble)

This project has progressed well in the first completed year.  Eight specimens (30% of the requested specimens) have completed the entire imaging process (plain radiography, computed axial tomography, contrast radiography).  Those specimens yet needed are:

Northern/Abyssinian Ground Hornbill                    Bucorvus abyssinicus                female and male

Southern/African Ground Hornbill                    Bucorvus leadbeateri                female and male

Von der Decken¡¯s/Jackson¡¯s Hornbill                    Tockus deckeni                    female

Oriental Pied Hornbill                                            Anthracoceros albirostris                female and male

Great/Great Indian/Giant Hornbill                    Buceros bicornis                    male

Rhinoceros Hornbill                                                               Buceros rhinoceros                               female

Rufous Hornbill                                                    Buceros hydrocorax                female and male          

Papupan/Blyth¡¯s Hornbill                                         (Aceros) Rhyticeros plicatus                female and male

Wreathed Hornbill                                                    (Aceros) Rhyticeros undulatus     male

Trumpeter Hornbill                                                  Bycanistes bucinator                male

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill                                      Bycanistes brevis                    male

An in-kind grant from Texas A&M University¡¯s Schubot Center for Avian Medicine provided all the tomography images.   The Director of this foundation has extended this generous arrangement for the second complete year of the project.  A full grant application is pending with the Association of Avian Veterinarians to provide funds to assist with radiography and skull preparation.  Presented and published results from this project are anticipated in late 2004 or early 2005.

  • Pathology Survey (Gamble, James)

A letter was submitted to 142 ISIS holding institutions ¨C electronically or by mail.  It requested that staff veterinarians provide copies of pathology reports for any coraciiformes deaths (1 January 1990 to 31 July 2003).  Data spreadsheets will be produced from the raw data; each veterinary (TAG) advisor will interpret and maintain the information long-term.

  Reports are due to Dr. James on or before 31 December 2003 for all specimens.  Several institutions have already replied.

Institutional representatives and bird curators are requested to assist this process long-term by obtaining and submitting complete necropsy reports to the appropriate veterinary advisor as deaths occur in a collection.


Future Projects:

  • Uropygial Gland Secretion Pigmentation of the Casque of Asian Hornbills (Gamble, Dierenfeld)

Asian hornbills, such as Buceros bicornis, derive the colorful casque pigmentation from secretions of the uropygial (preen) gland (Kemp, 2001).  Skin pigmentation in domestic mammalian species can have strong influences on preventing or allowing development of SCC.  Uropygial gland secretions could be influenced by captive diets or factors that may alter the pigments deposited in the casque keratin.  Determination of baseline normal values of pigments of uropygial gland secretions (wild, captive, and varying diets) could provide information to prevent or influence development of SCC of giant hornbill casques.



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