Treatment of a Retained Placenta in a Primaparous African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2009
Nadine Lamberski1, DVM, DACZM; James E. Oosterhuis1, DVM; Jeffery R. Zuba1, DVM; G. Lynn Richardson2, DVM, DACVS; Jeffrey Andrews1, MA; Allan P. Pessier3, DVM, DACVP; Barbara Durrant3, PhD; Richard Fayrer-Hosken4, DVM, PhD, DACT
1San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, Escondido, CA, USA; 2San Louis Rey Equine Hospital, Bonsall, CA, USA; 3San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, Escondido, CA, USA; 4Department of Large Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA


A 17-year-old primaparous African elephant (Loxodonta africana) gave birth to a live female calf following a 642-day gestation. The fetus passed 22 minutes after the amniotic sac and 5.5 hours after the mucus plug. The placenta did not pass. Lethargy, persistent vulvar discharge, decreased appetite, weight loss, and agalactia ensued over the next several weeks. Hematologic changes included leukocytosis, hyperfibrinogenemia, and anemia. Dam was anesthetized on day 23, 36, 42, 56, and 71 postpartum for endoscopic exam and uterine lavage. Endoscopic uterine biopsies were obtained, and endometritis confirmed. During the fourth anesthetic procedure, a 4-kg piece of placenta was removed using a modified shop vacuum. A vestibulotomy was performed on the same day to facilitate inserting a tube through the vulva and into the cervix. This allowed for the infusion of 210 mil IU penicillin G potassium (Pfizerpen, Pfizer/Roerig, NY, NY) and 12 g gentamicin sulfate (GentaVed™ 100, Vedco, Inc., St. Joseph, MO) in 3 L saline (0.9% NaCl Injection USP, Baxter Health Care Corp., Deerfield, IL) into the uterus while the animal stood in an elephant restraint device on days 62–69 postpartum. Serial endoscopic uterine evaluations before and after treatment confirmed improvement. A final piece of placenta weighing 2.6 kg passed 87 days postpartum. Decrease in white blood cell count, resolution of anemia, cessation of vaginal discharge, surgical wound healing, and increase in body weight were used to monitor improvement and determine resolution.


Speaker Information
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Jeffery R. Zuba, DVM
San Diego Wild Animal Park
Escondido, CA, USA

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