Gastric Phytobezoars Caused by Ingestion of Persimmon in Slender Tailed Meerkats (Suricata suricatta)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012

Alicia Hahn1, DVM; Jennifer D’Agostino1, DVM, DACZM; Gretchen Cole1, DVM, DACZM; Michael Garner2, DVM, DACVP

1Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma City, OK, USA; 2Northwest ZooPath, Monroe, WA, USA


Two meerkats (Suricata suricatta) died acutely and gastric bezoars were found on postmortem examination. Full diagnostic examinations were performed on the remaining eight animals in the group and gastric bezoars were found radiographically in four additional meerkats. The gastric bezoars completely filled the stomach and were firm, black in color, comprised of fibrous material and measured approximately 6.5 cm by 4 cm. The bezoars were removed surgically via gastrotomy from all four meerkats. All four meerkats recovered uneventfully after gastrotomy to remove the bezoars. Histologic examination of the gastric bezoars was consistent with persimmon fruit. Persimmon ingestion has been reported to cause phytobezoar formation in humans and horses.1,3 Tannins found in ripe persimmons are known to coagulate in the presence of gastric acid and the resultant phytobezoars can lead to gastrointestinal obstructions.2 It is suspected that a diet reduction in the group due to obesity may have led to food aggression and uncharacteristic consumption of persimmons produced by a tree in the exhibit. The tree was immediately removed from the exhibit and dietary modifications, including slight increase in amount offered and increase in number of feed stations were instituted. No further cases have been identified.

Literature Cited

1.  Banse, H., L. Gilliam, A. House, H. McKenzie, P. Johnson, M. Lopes, R. Carmichael, E. Groover, A. LaCarrubba, M. Breshears, M. Brosnahan, R. Funk, and T. Holbrook. 2011. Gastric and enteric phytobezoars caused by ingestion of persimmon in equids. J. Amer. Vet. Med. Assoc. 239:11101–115.

2.  Cummings, C., K. Copedge, and A. Confer. 1997. Equine gastric impaction, ulceration, and perforation due to persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) ingestion. J. Vet Diag. Invest. 9:311–313.

3.  Yoon, S.S., M. Kim, D. Kang, T. Yun, J. Jeon, Y. Lee, S. Choi, and C. Kim. 2011. A case of successful colonoscopic treatment of colonic obstruction caused by a phytobezoar. J. Korean Soc. Coloproctol. 27:211–4.


Speaker Information
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Alicia Hahn, DVM
Oklahoma City Zoo
Oklahoma City, OK, USA

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