We use a laboratory test known as Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) to measure hormone concentrations in different animal species. We can actually use most body fluids such as blood or urine to measure these hormones, but we most commonly use feces. Fecal samples are a great way for us to collect data on an animal in a way that is completely non-invasive. The animal keepers clean the animal pens daily and collect the samples for us, which are then frozen until we are ready to analyze them.
Our lab has the ability to assess several steroid hormones including progesterone, estradiol, testosterone, and glucocorticoids. We have generated data on multiple species including cheetah, tiger, fennec fox, bush dog, elephant, rhino, okapi, gerenuk, giraffe, zebra, otter. Using EIA, we are able to provide our zoos and wildlife centers with information such as when their animals become pregnant, determining if their females are exhibiting regular estrous cyclicity, assessing whether an animal is exhibiting certain behaviors due to high levels of a particular hormone, and much more. This information can be very valuable for zoos and can help them be more prepared for proper handling of their animals. We run one of only a few labs in the country that can diagnose pregnancy in an okapi, giraffe, antelope, and lion.
If you are interested in supporting SEZARC studies, please contact us.