Hematology, Serum Chemistry, Blood Coagulation Profiles, and Serology of Physically Restrained Captive Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)
IAAAM 2000
Ray L. Ball, DVM; Jonathan Miot, BS; Genevieve Dumonceux, DVM; Mike Burton, VMD
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa, FL, USA

Abstract

Giraffe have been held in captivity for hundreds of years despite being one of the more difficult mammals to physically manipulate and chemically restrain. Added to this is the entity known as peracute mortality syndrome which has claimed the lives of numerous zoo giraffe.3,5 A previous report1 compares hematology and serum chemistry profiles with variations in restraint, sex, and age but this report is 20 yr old and little follow-up has been found in the literature. Information collected on chemically restrained animals is useful but information on awake, minimally stressed animals may provide a more accurate assessment of a "normal" state of health. While more facilities are designing and implementing restraining facilities to manage giraffe, few collections have the numbers to generate sound data. Information collected from such facilities adds to the basic biomedical information and may help in the investigation of health problems in captive giraffes and in the medical management of ill adults and neonate giraffe.

In early 1997, minor alterations to an existing giraffe chute at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Florida (BGT) allowed the collection of blood on a routine basis from a herd of reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis).2 Animals over 1 yr of age had blood samples collected from the right jugular vein with 14-ga needles connected with 30-inch extension sets to large volumes syringes. Samples were then transferred into EDTA, sodium citrate, or plain blood tubes for complete blood cell counts and plasma glucagon, coagulation profiles, and serum chemistries respectively. In a previous report,1 only calcium and uric acid were reported as being significantly different between manually restrained and chemically restrained giraffe. Hemoglobin (Hb), red blood cell count (RBC), fibrinogen, hematocrit (HCT), phosphorus, globulin, lymphocyte count, amylase, band cells, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), creatine phosphokinase (CPK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), total bilirubin, magnesium, eosinophil counts, gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT), total protein, albumin, and calcium were all significantly different (P < 0.05) from values previously reported4 for giraffe (Table 1). While the overall experience of being worked into a chute systems is likely not as stressful as anesthesia, some stress-related responses may explain some of these differences.

Hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell count increases may all reflect splenic contraction. Elevations of total protein, fibrinogen, and globulin suggest an inflammatory process either at BGT or perhaps seen in awake animals. Lymphocytosis and eosinophilia may reflect an inflammatory or parasitic condition, or perhaps a more normal state if references values, obtained predominately from anesthetized animals, reflect a corticosteroid influence (lymphopenia and eosinopenia). Decreases in total bilirubin and GGT may be the result of animals not fasted. Creatine phosphokinase, LDH, and AST levels may reflect the absence of chemical restraint in the animal's samples. Calcium and phosphorus levels are inverted in our collection of giraffe. This trend is also seen in several other hoofstock herds. Soil minerals are suspected and this is being investigated. Amylase activity cannot be readily explained. Pancreatic insufficiency had been speculated in giraffe6 and pancreatic atrophy is noted consistently in cases of giraffe wasting syndrome, both in the authors experience and from historic records at BGT.

Managing a giraffe herd with the chute system also allowed for preliminary investigation into a condition that is essentially a chronic wasting syndrome that may be related, or the same, as peracute mortality syndrome. Serum cobalamine, cobalt, and plasma glucagon have all been looked into in an effort to determine a cause for what is apparently energy malnutrition. Other uses for routine phlebotomy in the giraffe herd include the potential for coagulation profiles (Table 2), blood transfusion, and collection of plasma without narcotics for neonates with failure of passive transfer.

Table 1. Blood chemistry and hematology parameters from captive giraffes housed at Busch Gardens-Tampa compared to the ISIS database.

Significant differences (P < 0.05) are indicated by the symbol (*).

 

ISIS

Busch Gardens-Tampa

 

Mean

SD

n

Mean

SD

n

HGB*

11.7

1.8

305

13.61

1.84

29

RBC*

10.42

2.48

284

12.58

2.2

29

Fibrinogen*

191

167

78

344.7

124.6

27

Creatinine*

1.8

0.4

304

2.175

0.453

20

HCT*

33.9

6

443

37.34

5.82

33

Phosphorus*

9.5

2.6

298

11.36

2.4

20

Globulin*

4.3

1.3

279

5.235

1.781

20

Lymphocyte*

2.319

1.488

355

3.138

1.376

31

Amylase*

59

78

86

6.706

3.368

17

Band Cells*

0.924

1.305

149

3.142

4.512

3

AST*

95

53

310

64.05

16.53

20

CPK*

1328

1654

141

338.6

174.4

19

LDH*

869

658

216

428.6

155.8

15

T. Bili*

1

0.9

300

0.495

0.498

20

Magnesium*

2.35

0.57

41

2.783

0.608

16

Eosinophil*

0.368

0.381

215

0.554

0.435

26

T. Protein*

7.4

1.3

301

8.09

1.524

20

GGT*

64

92

148

14.67

5.04

18

Albumin*

3.1

0.5

282

2.855

0.607

20

Calcium*

9.9

1.8

317

9.07

1.213

20

MCV

34.3

9.3

282

31.14

3.66

29

ALT

13

11

186

8.6

5.413

20

Glucose

135

61

340

112.1

31.2

20

MCH

11.8

3

275

10.93

1.03

29

Alk.phos

505

484

310

350.6

215.3

19

Cholesterol

34

16

199

38.44

15.61

18

Osmolarity

291

6

90

295.5

4.9

2

Monocyte

0.395

0.371

301

0.321

0.241

26

Potassium

4.8

0.6

305

4.927

0.668

20

Lipase

123

281

26

57.67

84.18

15

Neutrophil

9.207

4.434

351

8.559

2.915

30

Triglyceride

38

24

207

42.56

20.9

18

Chloride

105

6

288

105.9

4.2

20

CO2

21

4.2

179

21.56

4.22

9

Basophil

0.253

0.239

217

0.236

0.129

24

Sodium

145

4

307

145.3

4.7

20

MCHC

34.9

3.5

304

35.09

2.5

30

BUN

20

7

328

19.79

3.79

19

WBC

12.74

4.997

375

12.79

3.4

31

Table 2. Blood coagulation profiles and glucagon from captive giraffe housed at Busch Gardens-Tampa.

Parameter

Bovine
normals

Equine
normals

Mean ± SD

Range

n

Factor IX:c (%)

   

102.9 ± 28.6

62.00-149.0

7

Factor VII:c (%)

   

97.14 ± 16.36

71.00-117.0

7

Factor VIII: (%)

   

95.43 ± 35.43

72.00-173.0

7

Factor X:c (%)

   

86.00 ± 20.48

69.00-128.0

7

Factor XI:c (%)

   

117.1 ± 36.4

61.00-170.0

7

Factor XII:c (%)

   

132.5 ± 41.7

103.0-162.0

2

PT (sec)

22-55

7-19

12.84 ± 1.74

10.20-15.70

10

T. TIME (sec)

 

5-21

10.03 ± 1.83

7.000-12.50

10

APTT (sec)

44-64

37-54

31.58 ± 7.92

20.40-46.00

10

Glucagon pg/ml

   

38.57 ± 12.16

23.00-54.00

7

References

1.  Bush M, RS Custer, JC Whitla. 1980. Hematology and serum chemistry profiles for giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis): variations with sex, age, and, restraint. J. Zoo Anim. Med. 11:122-129.

2.  Dumonceaux GA, MS Burton, RL Ball, A DeMuth. 1998. Veterinary procedures facilitated by behavioral conditioning and desensitization in reticulated giraffe (Giraffe camelopardalis) and Nile hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius). Proc. Am. Assoc. Zoo Vet./Am. Assoc. Wildl. Vet. Joint Conf. Pp. 388-391.

3.  Fowler ME. 1978. Peracute mortality in captive giraffe. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 173:1088-1093.

4.  International Species Inventory System (ISIS). 1989. Normal physiologic data. Apple Valley, Minnesota, USA.

5.  Junge RE, TA Bradley. 1993. Peracute mortality syndrome of giraffes. In: Fowler ME. (ed.). Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine, 3rd ed. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pp. 547-549.

6.  Lechowski R, J Pisarski, J Goslawski, M Lenarcik. 1991. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency-like syndrome in giraffe. J. Wildl. Dis. 27:728-730.

Speaker Information
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Ray L. Ball, DVM
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Tampa, FL


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