During pregnancy, hormone levels rise after mating and remain elevated until delivery. By analyzing samples collected after mating, the Endocrinology Lab can diagnose pregnancy in a wide variety of species. Early diagnosis allows animal care staff to prepare for a birth by responding to the mother’s changing nutritional needs and by providing nesting material or a den. For pairs with a breeding recommendation, hormone measures can establish whether a female is having normal reproductive cycles and if she is capable of maintaining pregnancy. Hormone analysis can also help diagnose fertility problems and determine the age of puberty.

Recent Lab activities include:

  • ongoing reproductive monitoring for the Tree Kangaroo Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Mexican Wolf SSP;
  • documenting the return to fertility for lions and callimico after contraceptive treatment, in collaboration with the AZA Reproductive Management Center;
  • assisting scientists at the Turner Endangered Species Fund with gender determination of young Bolson tortoises; and
  • investigating the relationship between fertility and husbandry for fennec foxes, in collaboration with the Fennec Fox SSP.