Surgical Management of Retained Placenta in Two Nonhuman Primates
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015
Katie W. Delk1, DVM; Jessica Kingston2, MD; Mark Greenberg3, MD; Adanna Anyikam2, MD; Sarah Proehl2, MD; Cora Singleton1, DVM
1San Diego Zoo Global, San Diego, CA, USA; 2Department of Reproductive Medicine and 3Department of Anesthesiology, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA


Two primates were successfully treated for retained placenta, despite distinctly different presentations and management. The first case of retained placenta was a 35-year-old, multiparous female western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Three weeks after an apparently normal parturition, the gorilla developed profuse vaginal bleeding with no other clinical abnormalities. Emergency examination revealed severe anemia and ongoing intrauterine hemorrhage. A uterine dilation and suction curettage was performed, and blood clots and pieces of tissue were extracted from the uterus. Histopathology confirmed that the tissue fragments were retained placental tissue. Intraoperative intrauterine hemorrhage was managed with anesthetic manipulation, administration of uterotonic agents, and placement of an intrauterine Foley catheter. Following medical and surgical intervention, the gorilla remains clinically normal. The second case of retained placenta involved a 10-year-old, multiparous silvered leaf langur (Trachypithecus cristatus) that presented acutely for dystocia. A dead fetus was manually extracted under anesthesia. Over the next 24 hours, the langur failed to pass the placenta, became anorexic and lethargic, and demonstrated signs of early sepsis on blood work. An ultrasound-guided removal of the placenta using tissue forceps was performed under anesthesia. The intact placenta was removed successfully with minimal hemorrhage. Following placental extraction, the langur remains clinically normal. These cases represent different presentations of retained placentas in nonhuman primates—one acute and one chronic (which has not been reported)—and offer clinicians various methods for case management. Retained placenta is a potentially life-threatening condition that is rarely reported in primate literature but must be dealt with aggressively when encountered.1,2


The authors thank the primate department and the veterinary technicians at the San Diego Zoo for their care of these animals and assistance in these cases.

Literature Cited

1.  Bronson E, Deem SL, Sanchez C, Murray S. Placental retention in a golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2005;36:716–718.

2.  Halbwax M, Mahamba CK, Ngalula AM, Andre C. Placental retention in a bonobo (Pan paniscus). J Med Primatol. 2009;38:171–174.


Speaker Information
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Katie W. Delk, DVM
San Diego Zoo Global
San Diego, CA, USA

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