The Effect of Artificial UV Light Supplementation on Vitamin D Serum Concentration in Callimico (Callimico goeldii)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2009
Lisa Naples1,2, DVM; Jennifer Langan1,2,3, DVM, DACZM; John Kanzia3; Mark Warneke3
1Chicago Zoological and Aquatic Animal Residency Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, IL, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, IL, USA; 3Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL, USA


In 2004, seven Goeldi’s monkeys (Callimico goeldii) housed at a zoological institution developed metabolic bone disease associated with nutritional deficiencies in vitamin D.1 Despite dietary adjustments and oral supplementation of vitamin D, serum levels for all affected individuals remained significantly lower than other species of New World primates, and lower when compared to conspecifics.

Primates can convert vitamin D to a usable hormone through either dietary consumption or ultraviolet light exposure. Yet dietary supplementation has been implicated previously in renal disease development. Although this association has not been reported in New World primates, renal disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in captive callimico, suggesting that vitamin D supplementation through UV light conversion would be more appropriate for this species. Studies with humans demonstrated that adequate amounts of vitamin D can be acquired after only 15 minutes of sunlight biweekly. To the investigators’ knowledge, there are no reports on the daily requirements of UV light exposure in nonhuman New World primate species.

This study was developed to determine the impact of artificial UV light supplementation on vitamin D levels in callimico with no natural light exposure, and ongoing vitamin D deficiencies. The amount of time an individual callimico spends in front of an artificial UV light source was monitored with a PIT-tag monitoring system (Biomark®, Boise, ID, USA). Activity was recorded based on the identification of individual callimico with implanted microchips (KHZ Super Tag, Biomark®, Boise, ID, USA) on a platform facing a UV light source mounted with a remote antenna. Blood was collected to measure serum concentrations of vitamin D immediately prior to exposure to UV light, while monitoring time spent basking in front of the UV light source, and after the light source had been removed. Statistical analysis was performed to assess the relationship between exposure time and effect on serum vitamin D levels. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report of baseline vitamin D levels for callimico housed indoors on a controlled diet with and without UV light exposure.


The authors would like to thank Vince Sodaro for his extensive advice and support, the veterinary technicians, laboratory staff, and Tropic World staff of the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo for their support, and the Chicago Board of Trade for their financial support of this project.

Literature Cited

1.  Lintzenich, B.A., J.N. Langan, T.P. Meehan, and V.C. Sodaro, Jr. 2005. Complications associated with diet manipulation in callimico (Callimico goeldii). Proc. Am. Assoc. Zoo Vet. Pp. 8.


Speaker Information
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Lisa M. Naples, DVM
Chicago Zoological and Aquatic Animal Residency Program
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA

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