Comparison of Diagnostic Predictors of Neonatal Viability in Nondomestic Caprinae at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Taylor N. Bliss1, DVM; Matt J. Marinkovich2, DVM; Rachel E. Burns3, DVM, DACVP; Meredith M. Clancy2, DVM, MPH, DACZM; Lauren L. Howard2, DVM, DACZM
1VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center, San Diego, CA, USA; 2San Diego Zoo Global, San Diego Safari Park, Escondido, CA, USA; 3San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, Escondido, CA, USA


Ruminant neonatal survival is reliant upon an adequate amount of immunoglobulin consumption within a specific time frame post-parturition.1-5 Failure of passive transfer (FPT) of immunoglobulin has the potential to increase morbidity and mortality in neonates.1,2 Various methods to identify cases of FPT in nondomestic Caprinae species have been utilized, but their diagnostic value is poorly understood.2 This retrospective study evaluated 5 methods to assess passive transfer status in nondomestic Caprinae species in a zoological collection. A total of 187 neonates from eleven nondomestic Caprinae species had one or more testing methods performed within 7 days of birth: glutaraldehyde coagulation test (n=144), serum gamma-glutamyltransferase (n=170), glucose (n=163), fibrinogen (n=162) and BOVA-S, sodium sulfite turbidity test (n=41). Positive and negative results of each test were compared with the clinical condition (alive or dead) at 7 days of age using Fisher's exact test single variable analysis for the entire population and individual species groups. Data analysis indicates the only statistically significant predictor of survival to 7 days in the population was a blood glucose ≥60 mg/dl (p=0.014). Multivariable analyses, larger sample sizes among subgroups, or longer follow-up may provide better evaluation of FPT testing methods as predictors of survival. The use of multiple testing methods to determine neonatal viability in nondomestic Caprinae species is warranted as no one method was adequate for identifying FPT.


The authors thank the San Diego Zoo Global CHS, clinical laboratory and veterinary services teams for their dedication to the care of the animals included in this study, as well as the collection and interpretation of the samples utilized in this study.

Literature Cited

1.  Godden S. Colostrum management for dairy calves. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract. 2008;24:19–29.

2.  Howard LL, Turner LM, Stalis IH, Morris PJ. Serum gamma-glutamyltransferase as prognostic indicator of neonatal viability in nondomestic ruminants. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2005;36:239–244.

3.  O’Rourke KI, Satterfield WC. Glutaraldehyde coagulation test for detection of hypogammaglobulinemia in neonatal nondomestic ruminants. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1981;179:1144–1146.

4.  Thompson KA, Lamberski N, Kass PH, Coons D, Chigerwe M. Evaluation of a commercial bovine colostrum replacer for achieving passive transfer of immunity in springbok calves (Antidorcas marsupialis). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2013;44:541–548.

5.  Thompson KA, Rayburn MC, Chigerwe M. Evaluation of the immunocrit method to detect failure of passively acquired immunity in dairy calves. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2017;251:702–705.


Speaker Information
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Taylor N. Bliss, DVM
VCA Emergency Animal Hospital & Referral Center
San Diego, CA, USA

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