Electrophoresis and Acute Phase Proteins in Healthy, Injured, and Diseased Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) and Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Carolyn Cray1, PhD; Emma J. Hooijberg2, BVSc, PhD, DECVCP; Anne Meyer3, DVM; Holly Haefele4, DVM; Kimberly L. Rainwater5, DVM; Elizabeth Hammond3, DVM, DACZM, DECZM (Zoo Health Management)
1Division of Comparative Pathology, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA; 2Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies and Centre for Veterinary Wildlife Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, South Africa; 3Lion Country Safari, Loxahatchee, FL, USA; 4Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Glen Rose, TX, USA; 5Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth, TX, USA


Quantitation of acute phase proteins in nondomesticated mammals by either serum protein electrophoresis or specific acute phase protein assays is becoming more widely available for research and clinical applications.1,2 Acute phase protein quantitation can be valuable in health assessments as well as for prognostic value.2 Recent work using agarose gel electrophoresis in serum samples from the southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) defined several significant differences between normal rhinos and animals with wounds related to poaching and other injuries.3 In an expanded study of the same sample set, 30% of wounded animals were observed to have increased serum amyloid A (SAA) levels determined by a multi-species SAA ELISA (Tridelta, Kildare, Ireland). A working reference interval of 0–20 mg/L was determined. Values in wounded animals ranged from normal levels to an excess of 100 mg/L. A case of suspected leptospirosis demonstrated increased SAA, consistent with changes to the CBC; however, no SAA increases were seen in a separate case of fibromyxosarcoma. The ELISA has been applied to the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) under human care and a range of 0–5 mg/L was observed. In a case of long term undetermined illness in a black rhinoceros, the SAA values ranged from 3.8 to 17.9 mg/L. In these and other cases, protein electrophoresis had variable sensitivity in the detection of clinical abnormality or inflammation. The examination of additional samples with varied clinical presentations as well as repeated measures should prove helpful in understanding the clinical utility of SAA quantitation and electrophoresis in rhinoceros under human care.

Literature Cited

1.  Bertelsen MF, Kjelgaard-Hansen M, Grondahl C, Heegaard PM, Jacobsen S. Identification of acute phase proteins and assays applicable in nondomesticated mammals. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2009;40(1):199–203.

2.  Cray C. Acute phase proteins in animals. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2011;105:113–150.

3.  Hooijberg EH, Miller M, Cray C, Buss P, Steenkamp G, Goddard A. Serum protein electrophoresis in healthy and injured southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum). PLoS ONE. 2018;13(7):e0200347.


Speaker Information
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Carolyn Cray, PhD
Division of Comparative Pathology, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Miami, FL, USA

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