Cobalamin Deficiency in a Lesser Kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis): Clinical Manifestations, Diagnosis, and Response to Treatment
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
June E. Olds, DVM
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA; Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines, IA, USA


A ten-year-old captive lesser kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis) housed in a mixed-species exhibit presented with ill-thrift, weight loss, roughened hair-coat, and decreased activity. The animal had a chronic history of abnormal hoof-growth, requiring semi-annual immobilization for hoof trim. Hematology and serum chemistry abnormalities identified during recent examinations included worsening normocytic, normochromic anemia as well as blood urea nitrogen and creatinine levels at the high end of normal for the species. Chronic renal disease was suspected as the cause of clinical signs. Results of physical exam and nutritional testing identified cobalamin deficiency.1-4 The kudu responded to treatment with intramuscular injections of cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12), followed by supplementation with a commercial cobalt saltlick. Clinical improvement was noted with weight gain, improved body and coat condition, and increased energy levels. Diagnostic testing four months following treatment identified complete resolution of anemia, and serum cobalamin levels elevated to within bovine normal reference ranges. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first report of cobalamin deficiency in Tragelaphus imberbis and may indicate the need for surveillance of serum cobalamin levels or dietary cobalt levels for captive exotic ruminant species.


The author wishes to thank the Blank Park Zoo veterinary support team and large mammal team for their tireless care of these amazing animals, and also, Myrna Booth, registrar, for her magnificent record-keeping.

Literature Cited

1.  Kadim IT, Johnson E, Mahgoub O, Srikandakuma A, Al-Ajmi D, Ritchie A, et al. Effect of low levels of dietary cobalt on apparent nutrient digestibility in Omani goats. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 2003;109:209–216.

2.  Pond WG, Church D, Pond K, Schoknecht PA. Basic Animal Nutrition and Feeding. 4th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons; 2005:247–269.

3.  Strangl GI, Schwartz F, Kirchgessner M. Moderate long-term cobalt-deficiency affects liver, brain and erythrocyte lipids, and lipoproteins of cattle. Nutri Res. 1999;19(3):415–499.

4.  Wang RL, Kong X, Zhan Y, Zhu X, Narenbatu, Jia Z. Influence of dietary cobalt on performance, nutrient digestibility, and plasma metabolites in lambs. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 2007;135(3–4):346–352.


Speaker Information
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June E. Olds, DVM
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
Iowa State University
Ames, IA, USA

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