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Casares M.,Bioparc ValenciaValenciaSpain | Carbonell M.D.,Bioparc ValenciaValenciaSpain | Gerique C.,Bioparc ValenciaValenciaSpain
Zoo Biology | Year: 2016

Salivary samples were collected over a 24-hr period from one group of six juvenile (7-12 years) and one group of three adult (24-25 years) African elephant females, Loxodonta africana, and the cortisol concentration was measured in unextracted samples by EIA. Samples were collected during May, June, and November 2012 (n=147) using cotton swabs at 4-hr intervals from 20:00 to 20:00 of the next day (seven samples per animal in each trial). The animals are kept under standard zoo management: the herd is maintained in their indoor enclosures until 10:00 and then released into the outdoor enclosures until 21:00-21:30 (May/June) and 18:30-19:00 (November). No adult elephant bull was present at the zoo during this time. The results demonstrate a clear diurnal pattern of cortisol secretion with the lowest concentration observed at 20:00 (2.03±0.08ng/ml saliva) and the peak concentrations at 08:00 (5.26±0.35ng/ml saliva). Although the cortisol values were higher in the adult cows compared to the juvenile cows in the May-June period, the differences were not significant. However, the values obtained in November from the juvenile group were significantly higher (P<0.05) than the concentrations measured in this group in June. In conclusion, salivary cortisol in zoo elephants follows a circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) adapted to daily zoo husbandry routines. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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