Valeria Conforti. 2012. Noninvasive Monitoring of Adrenocortical Function in Captive Jaguars (Panthera onca)
Jaguars are threatened with extinction throughout their range. A sustainable captive population can serve as a hedge against extinction, but only if they are healthy and reproduce. Understanding how jaguars respond to stressors may help improve the captive environment and enhance their wellbeing. Thus, our objectives were to: (1) conduct an adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) challenge to validate a cortisol radioimmunoassay (RIA) for noninvasive monitoring of adrenocortical function in jaguars; (2) investigate the relationship between fecal corticoid (FCM) and androgen metabolite (FAM) concentrations in males during the ACTH challenge; and (3) establish a range of physiological concentrations of FCMs for the proposed protocol. Seven jaguars (3 M, 4 F) received 500 IU/animal of ACTH. Pre- and post-ACTH fecal samples were assayed for corticoid (M and F) and androgen metabolites (M) by RIA. Concentrations of FCMs increased (Po0.01) after ACTH injection (pre-ACTH: 0.9070.12 mg/g dry feces; postACTH: 2.5570.25 mg/g). Considering pre- and post-ACTH samples, FCM concentrations were higher (Po0.01) in males (2.1570.20 mg/g) than in females (1.3070.20 mg/g), but the magnitude of the response to ACTH was comparable (P40.05) between genders. After ACTH injection, FAMs increased in two (of 3) males; in one male, FCMs and FAMs were positively correlated (0.60; Po0.01).