Original Research

Validating a non-invasive technique for monitoring physiological stress in the samango monkey

Juan Scheun, Adrian S.W. Tordiffe, Kirsten Wimberger, Andre Ganswindt
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 87, No 1 | a1720 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v87i1.1720 | © 2020 Juan Scheun, Adrian S.W. Tordiffe, Kirsten Wimberger, Andre Ganswindt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 10 December 2018 | Published: 27 February 2020

About the author(s)

Juan Scheun, National Zoological Garden, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Endocrine Research Laboratory, Mammal Research Institute, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Adrian S.W. Tordiffe, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, Pretoria, South Africa
Kirsten Wimberger, The Cape Parrot Project, The Wild Bird Trust, Parktown, Johannesburg, South Africa
Andre Ganswindt, National Zoological Garden, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Endocrine Research Laboratory, Mammal Research Institute, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The non-invasive monitoring of physiological stress can provide conservation and wildlife managers with an invaluable tool for assessing animal welfare and psychological health of captive and free-ranging populations. A significant decrease in free-ranging primate populations globally and an increase in captive-housed primates have led to a need to monitor the stress and general welfare of these animals. We examined the suitability of three enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) for monitoring stress-related physiological responses in the samango monkey, Cercopithecus albogularis erythrarchus. We conducted an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) challenge on a male and female at the National Zoological Garden, Pretoria, South Africa. Individual faecal samples were collected 8 days pre- and post-ACTH administration and subsequently analysed for faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (fGCM) concentrations. During the study, biological stressors occurred for both the male and female. Two of the three EIAs tested (11-oxoetiocholanolone I and II) were able to reliably monitor fGCM alterations throughout the study period in both sexes. The 11-oxoetiocholanolone I EIA, however, had the lowest mean deviation from the calculated baseline value and was thus chosen as the preferred assay. Both the physiological activation of the stress response and the biological response to a stressor could be monitored with the chosen assay. The successful establishment of a reliable, non-invasive method for monitoring adrenocortical activity in C. albogularis erythrarchus will now allow conservationists, scientific researchers and wildlife managers to evaluate the level of stress experienced, and general welfare, by animals in captivity as well as free-ranging populations.

Keywords

ACTH challenge; animal welfare; samango monkey; non-invasive hormone monitoring; glucocorticoids; biological validation

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