AboutZoos, Since 2008


Toxin in wood used for enclo­sures could harm zoo animals

pub­lished 23 May 2016 | mod­i­fied 23 May 2016

Wooden enclosure in zooWhen zoo ani­mals gnaw on wood their enclo­sures are made of, they may be risk­ing their health by ingest­ing toxic lev­els of arsenic. So, zoo man­agers need to pay atten­tion to the poten­tial risk of the wood on zoo ani­mals, a new study of the Uni­ver­sity of Florida Insti­tute of Food and Agri­cul­tural Sci­ences (UF/​IFAS) shows.

The wood in ques­tion is treated with chro­mated cop­per arse­n­ate (CCA), which can be toxic.

After vis­it­ing a zoo with her fam­ily, Julia Gress, a for­mer post-​doctoral researcher in the UF/​IFAS soil and water sci­ences depart­ment, rec­og­nized that ani­mals liv­ing in enclo­sures made from CCA-​treated wood might face health risks.

Gress wanted to assess the impact of CCA-​treated wood on arsenic expo­sures in zoo ani­mals. She mea­sured arsenic con­cen­tra­tions in soil from inside enclo­sures and on wipe sam­ples of CCA-​treated wood. Sam­ples were taken from inside 17 wood enclo­sures, and also included croc­o­dile eggs, bird feath­ers, mar­moset hair and por­cu­pine quills.

Zoos care about the ani­mals, which are often worth a lot of money
Julia Gress, Safer Con­sumer Prod­ucts pro­gram, Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Toxic Sub­stances Con­trol, USA »

Researchers found arsenic lev­els in soil that were higher than the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s risk-​based level for birds and mam­mals. As well, arsenic lev­els in some ani­mal tis­sues were also higher than those in other stud­ies. Those find­ings should encour­age zoo man­agers to limit ani­mal expo­sure to arsenic found on the wood sur­face and in nearby soil, Gress said.

CCA-​treated wood is used in many struc­tures. CCA pre­serves wood and extends its life by 20 to 40 years, but it con­tains large amounts of arsenic. CCA was with­drawn from use in most res­i­den­tial appli­ca­tions in 2004 because of health con­cerns over arsenic. Still, CCA-​treated poles, fenc­ing and ply­wood are com­monly used in areas where ani­mals are housed, includ­ing barns, feed­lots and zoos, accord­ing to the study.

CCA wood is mar­keted for us in all types of agri­cul­tural appli­ca­tions, and there are instances of ani­mals being poi­soned from chew­ing on CCA wood in their ani­mal enclo­sures, which is nor­mal ani­mal behav­iour,” Gress said.

In zoo set­tings, ani­mals can expe­ri­ence long-​term, daily expo­sure to con­t­a­m­i­nants, which con­cerns sci­en­tists try­ing to con­serve threat­ened and endan­gered species, Gress said.

(Source: Uni­ver­sity of Florida IFAS News release, 20.05.2016)

UN Biodiversity decade
WWF Stop Wildlife Crime
Fight for Flight campaign
End Ivory-funded Terrorism
Support Rewilding Europe
NASA State of Flux

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

about zoos and their mis­sion regard­ing breed­ing endan­gered species, nature con­ser­va­tion, bio­di­ver­sity and edu­ca­tion, which of course relates to the evo­lu­tion of species.
Fol­low me on: