The Kansas City Zoo has housed a population of Guinea baboons (Papio papio) since 1995. Baboons are a popular but non-endangered exhibit animal in zoos. Guinea baboons range across the countries of Guinea, Senegal, Gambia and southern Mauritania.
Diabetes mellitus is common in baboon species and pancreatic amyloidosis had been previously documented in one adult baboon at the zoo with diabetes mellitus. Two additional cases subsequently occurred in two females contracepted with melengestrol acetate implants. At the time of implant removal, both animals were noted as being significantly underweight, hyperglycemic, hypoinsulinemic, glycosuric, with demonstrated elevated fructosamine serum concentrations. Both animals were subsequently diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. Both animals were initially managed with dietary adjustment, the oral hypoglycemic agent glipizide (Patheon Pharmaceuticals Inc, Cincinnati, OH 45237 USA) and one animal also received rosiglitazone (Avandia, GlaxoSmithKline, Philadelphia, PA 19101 USA), until they were behaviorally conditioned to accept blood sampling, twice daily urine sampling and insulin therapy. Each keeper was specifically trained in the usage of insulin, and a protocol including acceptable glucose parameters was implemented. Porcine insulin zinc (Vetsulin, Intervet Inc., Merck Animal Health, Summit, NJ 07901 USA) was initially utilized in conjunction with glipizide and rosiglitazone to control and subsequently regulate diabetes. When Vetsulin became no longer available, both baboons were transitioned to NPH human insulin (Humilin N, Eli Lilly & Co., Indianapolis, IN 46285 USA).
Both animals were managed with twice daily insulin therapy for more than 8 yr, at which time one animal deteriorated with uncontrolled hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic events and was subsequently euthanized. Histopathologic evaluation of the pancreas demonstrated 100% effacement with amyloid.
The success in controlling and regulating diabetes mellitus in these two animals was directly due to unique and specific behavioral conditioning by staff. Consensus meetings between animal and animal health staff, training and communication were critical to the long-term management of these two animals. These may serve as a model when attempting to treat baboons with diabetes.