Glossary of Terms

Abiotic – non-living

Acclimatization – the physiological adaptation of an animal to a new environment, or changes in the same environment; it includes many biotic and abiotic factors such as climate, light, altitude, flora and fauna, etc.

Adult – an animal that is fully grown or developed and has attained sexual maturity

Altricial – animals that are born helpless, blind, without feathers, etc.; the young are simply unable to fend for themselves. E.g., tiger cubs.

Anesthesia – the administration of a drug that induces partial or total loss of sensation; it may be topical, local, regional, or general, depending on the method of administration and area of the body affected

Ano-genital stimulation – gentle stimulation of the ano-genital area (with a warm, wet cloth after every feed) to encourage urination and defecation; it is essential in the first 3-4 weeks of a young mammal’s life

Antibody – any of the various proteins produced in the blood in response to the presence of an antigen, such as a bacterium, virus, or parasite. It neutralizes the antigen by specifically binding to it

Antigen – is a substance that stimulates the production of an antibody when introduced into the body. Antigens include bacteria, viruses, toxins, foreign blood cells, etc.

Anti-inflammatory – medicine used to relieve swelling, pain, and other symptoms of inflammation

Antivenin – an antitoxin used against the venom of a snake, spider, or other venomous animal or insect

Basking – exposing oneself to the pleasant warmth, esp. that of the sun; essential for reptiles to regulate their body temperatures

Biotic – living

Blind-fold – to prevent (a person or animal) from seeing by covering the eyes

Capture myopathy – is a non-infectious disease of muscles that is characterized by damage to muscle tissues brought about by physiological changes, usually following extreme exertion, struggle and/or stress

Casein – is the primary protein found in milk. It is highly nutritious and contains all essential amino acids

Cecotrope – also called caecotrophe or night feces; is produced by a process called ‘hindgut fermentation’ and contains partially digested food materials – these are reingested by the animal to obtain more nutrients out of their feed

Chemical immobilization – immobilization induced by the administration of drugs

Chemoreception – is a process by which organisms respond to chemical stimuli (primarily by the senses of taste and smell) in their environments

Colostrum – is the first milk produced by the mammary glands at the time of parturition and precedes the production of true milk. It also contains a boost of maternal anti-bodies that are essential for building the immunity of the young 

Congenital – a condition that is present at or before birth

Congenital defect – defect present since birth

Coprophagous – feeding on excrement; young animals of many species (for e.g., hare, elephants, pandas, etc.) consume some of the feces of their mothers or other animals to obtain the helpful bacteria to digest their feed 

Crop – a pouch like expanded part of the oesophagus of birds, in which food is stored or partially digested before passing on to the gizzard

Crop burn – scalding of a chick's crop and esophagus with formula that is too hot

Ex-situ – off-site; commonly used in ex-situ conservation or rehabilitation, it involves the removal of an animal from its original location to a facility

Extant – existing; surviving; not lost or extinct

Extinct – no longer existing or living

Filial imprinting – is that in which a young animal acquires several of its behavioral characteristics from its parent. E.g., baby ducks following their mother

Fledgling – a young bird that has recently acquired its flight feathers

Fledged – having developed feathers or plumage

Gravid – pregnant

Habituation – quite literally, it is the gradual decline of a response to a stimulus resulting from repeated exposure to the stimulus; it is an extremely simple form of learning, in which an animal, after a period of exposure to a stimulus, stops responding

Hand-raising – also, hand-rearing; although there isn’t quite an exact definition for hand-raising, it is literally the rearing of an animal with your own hands

Hard-release – is a means by which the animal is released into a new location without its being accustomed to the new environment

Hatchling – a young animal that has newly emerged from an egg

Immobilization – the act of limiting movement or making incapable of movement; it is the forced restriction of movement of all or part of an animal’s body, either by physical or chemical means

Immunoglobulin – an antibody

Imprinting – is a process by which a young animal learns and impersonates the behaviour patterns of the surrogate parent, human or other animal, thereby forgoing behaviour patterns essential for its survival in the wild

Infant – a young baby in its early stages of life; one who is beginning learning or is inexperienced

In-situ – in the original location; not having been moved

Juvenile (juv) – young; not fully grown or developed

Lactase – an enzyme found in certain yeasts and the intestinal juices of mammals that helps in catalyzing lactose into galactose and glucose

Lactobacillus – a Gram-positive rod-shaped bacterium that produces lactic acid (especially in milk)

Lactobacillus acidophilus – a bacterium that is used to make yogurt and to supplement probiotics

Lactose – is a disaccharide sugar found in milk

Lactose intolerance – is the inability to digest lactose due to a deficiency of the enzyme lactase

Metabolism – the chemical process involving the breaking down of substances within a living cell or organism yield energy for vital processes

Neonate – a newborn infant, esp. one less than four weeks of age

Nidicolous – those that stay at their nest or birthplace for a long time after birth, due to their dependence on the parents for feeding, protection and learning survival skills. E.g., tiger cubs.

(All altricial animals are nidicolous, but a nidicolous animal may be altricial or precocial.)

Nidifugous – animals that leave the nest shortly after hatching or birth. E.g., chicken, ducks, geese, etc. 

(All nidifugous animals are precocial. But a precocial animal may or may not be nidifugous.)

Nutrient – a substance that provides nourishment for growth, development and maintenance

Nutrition – intake of nutrients and its assimilation into tissues for growth and replacement

Pancreatic enzymes – are natural chemicals that help break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates; the administration of artificially produced enzymes to aid digestion


Pathogen – an agent that causes disease


Precocial – animals that are born with eyes open, fully-furred and mobile; the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. E.g., chicken, ducks, geese, etc. 

Extremely precocial species may be called ‘superprecocial’.

Probiotic – a beneficial bacterium found in the intestinal tract of healthy mammals; the administration of such beneficial bacteria in the form of a medicinal supplement

Probiotic microflora – a beneficial bacterium found in the intestinal tract of healthy mammals

Prophylactic – preventing or contributing to the prevention of disease, such as a vaccine

Rehabilitation – the act of restoring something or someone to a satisfactory state; to restore to good condition, operation, or capacity

Release – quite literally, is to set free from confinement, captivity, restraint, or bondage

Restraint –the state of being physically constrained; the act of controlling by restraining; something that retards motion

Reunite – to bring or come together again

Reversal – the act or an instance of reversing

Reversal agent – a drug used to reverse the effects of anesthetics, narcotics or potentially toxic agents 

Sedate – to administer a sedative to; to calm or relieve by means of a sedative drug

Sedative – an agent or a drug that produces a soothing, calming, or tranquilizing effect; reduces or relieves anxiety, stress, irritability, or excitement

Site fidelity – the preference or instinct of an animal to return to the same place time and time again

Soft-release – is a means by which the animal is gradually introduced or familiarized to a new environment before its release into that location

Sour crop – also known as impacted crop or crop binding; is the phenomenon of delayed crop emptying

Splint – a rigid or flexible appliance for fixation of displaced or movable parts; a rigid device used to prevent motion of a joint or of the ends of a fractured bone

Steroid – any of a group of synthetic derivatives of testosterone having pronounced anabolic properties and relatively weak androgenic properties; used clinically to promote growth and repair of body tissues in diseases or states promoting catabolism or tissue wasting

Sub-adult – almost fully grown and developed, independent, but yet to mature sexually

Tranquilize – to make tranquil, or relieve of anxiety or tension by the administration of a drug

Tranquilizer – drug used to reduce tension or anxiety; an anti-anxiety agent

Venom – a poisonous secretion of an animal, such as a snake, spider, or scorpion, usually delivered through a bite or sting

Weaning – the period of transition from breast feeding (or supplemental feeding) to eating solid foods; the act of discontinuing the young from receiving a milk diet provided by the mother or from artificial sources