Sunday, 4 November 2012

Where Does a 500-Pound Sea Lion Spit?


ScienceDaily (Oct. 29, 2012) — Anywhere it wants. OK, they don't really expectorate. So a Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) saliva expert has done a bit of improvisation.
Now, few humans would drool at the chance to swab the inside of a quarter-ton sea lion's mouth. There's the fishy breath, naturally. And did we mention the canine teeth? Gumdrops and lollipops it isn't.
Then there's Douglas Granger, PhD, Director of the JHUSON's Center for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience, who sees studying the zoo animals as a perfect opportunity to continue his groundbreaking research on how saliva can signal stress, health risks, and illness in the human body, and apply this research to endangered species as well.
Granger has partnered with Michelle Farmerie, MAIS-ZAL, who chairs the Animal Enrichment Committee at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, on a project to study through saliva swabs how much stress animals experience from changes in their environment, including when moved from zoo to zoo. The research team hopes the sea lions' saliva can offer clues to how individual animals handle various experiences. The idea is that the study will give animal caregivers more data that they can use to further enhance the health and welfare of animals.

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