Evaluation of Neoplasias as a Cause of Mortality in Captive Tenrecs (Echinops telfairi)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2011

Olenka Bilyk1, BS; Tara M. Harrison1,2, DVM, MPVM, DACZM

1College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA; 2Potter Park Zoo, Lansing, MI, USA


Tenrecs are insectivores that reside primarily in central Africa and Madagascar. It has been observed that captive tenrecs commonly develop tumors.1,2 A retrospective survey was developed based on the husbandry, medical and necropsy records to determine how much of a concern neoplasia is in captive lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs (Echinops telfairi) housed within Association of Zoos and Aquariums zoos. This survey evaluated the types of cancer as well as risk factors for development of tumors, such as age, gender, genetics and environment. Of the population represented by the survey (n=231, 20/32 zoos responding), 26 percent were female, 29.4 percent were male, and 44.6 percent were of an unknown gender. Overall, the tenrecs in this study ranged in age from 0 days to 18 yr old, with the average age of 4.9 yr. Neoplasia was found in 11.7 percent of tenrecs. Of those tenrecs that developed neoplasia, 33.3 percent were female, 48.2 percent were male and 18.5 percent were of an unknown gender and their ages ranged from 4.0 to 17.5 yr, with the average age of 11.5 yr. Carcinoma and lymphosarcoma were the most common types of tumors with the liver and thyroid gland as the most common locations. Approximately 33.3 percent of primary tumors identified in this study had metastasized. The most common sites of metastases were the liver and the lungs. There was no statistical significance in regard to risk factors. Further understanding of neoplasia in tenrecs will assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of tumors in tenrecs and similar species.


The authors would like to thank the Morris Animal Foundation Veterinary Student Scholars, Michigan State University GOF Graduate School Fellowship, Dallas Zoo, Denver Zoo, Disney‘s Animal Kingdom Park, Fort Worth Zoo, Utah‘s Hogle Zoo, Houston Zoo, John Ball Zoological Garden, Potter Park Zoo, Minnesota Zoo, Virginia Zoological Park, Wildlife Conservation Society, Oakland Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Seneca Park Zoo, San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium, Riverside Zoo, Toledo Zoological Society, and Wild World Zoo & Aquarium.

Literature Cited

1.  Harrison, T.M., P. Dominguez, K. Hanzlik, J.G. Sikarskie, D. Agnew, I. Bergin, S.D. Fitzgerald, B.E. Kitchell, and E. McNiel. 2010. Treatment of an amelanotic melanoma using radiation therapy in a lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrec (Echinops telfairi). J Zoo Wildl Med. 41:152–157.

2.  Khoii, M.K., E.W. Howerth, R.B., K.P. Carmichael, and Z.S. Gyimesi. 2008. Spontaneous neoplasia in four captive greater hedgehog tenrecs (Setifer setosus). J Zoo Wildl Med. 39:392–397.


Speaker Information
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Olenka Bilyk, BS
College of Veterinary Medicine
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI, USA

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