The preshipment examination, with associated transmissible disease testing, has become standard practice in the movement of animals between zoos. An alternative disease risk-based approach, based on a comprehensive surveillance program including necropsy and preventive medicine examination testing and data, has been in practice since 2006 between the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. A retrospective analysis, evaluating comprehensive necropsy data and preshipment testing over a 5-yr study period, was performed to determine the viability of this model for use with sending animals to other institutions. Animals (607 birds, 704 reptiles and amphibians, and 341 mammals) were shipped to 116 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited and 29 non–AZA-accredited institutions. The evaluation showed no evidence of the specific transmissible diseases tested for during the preshipment exam being present within the San Diego Zoo collection. We suggest that a risk-based animal and institution-specific approach to transmissible disease preshipment testing is more cost effective and is in the better interest of animal welfare than the current industry standard of dogmatic preshipment testing.
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