At SEZARC, we use a laboratory test known as an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) to measure hormone concentrations in biological samples from different animal species. We sometimes measure hormones in blood samples, but most commonly we measure the metabolized forms of the hormones that are present in feces. Fecal samples are the ideal way for us to collect data on an animal because the collection of fecal samples is non-invasive. Animal keepers at the zoos clean the animal habitats daily and collect fecal samples, which are frozen before being sent to one of our labs for analysis.
Using EIAs, SEZARC provides our zoos and aquariums with valuable information on the status of animals in their care, including possible pregnancy or pseudopregnancy, if a female is cycling regularly, whether a specific behaviour might be caused by high levels of a particular hormone, if a male is reproductively active, and much more. This information is highly valuable to zoos and aquariums, as it can tell keepers when the best time might be to put a male and female together for breeding or alert the keepers early to a possible pregnancy. The information that SEZARC generates helps keepers to better understand the health of their animals.