Honours student, Bruce Crossey, conducts research on wild dogs at HESC


We recently hosted Bruce Crossey, an Honours student from the University of Pretoria, who was here to do some research on the stress levels of wild dogs in captivity and how it plays a role on their overall health and behavior.

Bruce worked closely with our curator, Natasha, to collect samples of the wild dog fecal matter. This will be used to test the level of glucocorticoid steroid (stress) hormones. Prolonged stress has shown to decrease the animal’s reproductive and immune systems, which will be disadvantageous for centres that are working on breeding these species.

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Says Bruce, “My aim is to determine a baseline for the level of stress exhibited by captive wild dogs at HESC, Johannesburg Zoo and the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria. This will allow me to make comparisons between the enclosure sizes and the gender compositions as well as what effect these factors may have on prolonged stress levels in captive African wild dogs.”

With this baseline he would be able to deduce optimal breeding conditions (by reducing stress) for wild dogs in captivity and increase the success rate.


Further to his study, Bruce is conducting research to see how long after the wild dogs defecate will the hormones in the fecal sample be viable for testing. This information will come in handy when the research is done on wild dogs in the wild, as it will not necessarily be possible to immediately pick up their fecal samples.

Bruce will report back to us as soon as soon as the results of his research become available. We wish him all the best on his research project, and we are glad to have been able to assist him.