Suspected Seminal Vesiculitis in an Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010

Jennifer J. Kilburn1, DVM; Karen E. Velguth2, DVM; Kay A. Backues1, DVM, DACZM

1Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum, Tulsa, OK, USA; 2 Department of Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA


A 32-yr-old male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) underwent routine ultrasonographic assessment and transrectal stimulation for semen collection as part of the artificial insemination program.3,4,8 The procedure consisted of a pre-artificial insemination semen collection followed by the true semen collection on a following day. The second days’ sample contained inflammatory cells, intracellular bacteria, and phagocytized sperm. Culture revealed Acinetobacter lwoffii, Staphylococcus intermedius, and Kocuria roseus. Empirical antibiotic therapy with trimethoprim sulfa (24mg/kg orally once daily) was initiated and then tailored based on the sensitivity panel to enrofloxacin (5mg/kg orally once daily). Enrofloxacin has been evaluated in elephants and the seminal fluid concentration has been determined in horses.1,2,7 Diagnostic semen collections were performed during treatment and 2 wk post treatment to determine the success of therapy. Post-treatment collections revealed resolution of the inflammation. The origin of the infection was suspected to be in the seminal vesicles.

Typical isolates in seminal vesiculitis include Arcanobacterium sp., Acinetobacter sp., Streptococcus sp., and Pasteurella sp. Management in those domestic species typically varies from benign neglect, systemic antibiotics, locally infused antibiotics or surgical seminal vesiculectomy in more extreme cases.5,6 The latter is less practical as treatment of seminal vesiculitis in an elephant.

Reproductive infections represent a challenging and realistic problem in elephants. The increasing usage of semen collection and artificial insemination has revolutionized elephant reproduction and has allowed further assessments of their reproductive tracts.


The authors would like to thank the staff of the Tulsa Zoo elephant department and John Bradford of the Dickerson Park Zoo for their participation in the collections.

Literature Cited

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5.  Hull, B.L., and S.R. Vogel. 2008. Seminal vesiculitis. Vet. Clin. Food Anim. 24:267–272.

6.  Rovay, H., A.D. Barth, M. Chirino-Trejo, and M.F. Martinez. 2008. Update on treatment of vesiculitis in bulls. Theriogenology. 70:495–503.

7.  Sanchez, C.R., S.Z. Murray, R. Isaza, and M.G. Papich. 2005. Pharmacokinetics of a single dose of enrofloxacin administered orally to captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Am. J. Vet. Res. 66(11):1948–1953.

8.  Schmitt, D.L., and T.B. Hildebrandt. 1998. Manual collection and characterization of semen from Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Anim. Reprod. Sci. 53:309–314.



Speaker Information
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Jennifer J. Kilburn, DVM
Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum
Tulsa, OK, USA

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