Urinalysis in Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2006
Ellen Wiedner1, VMD, DACVIM; Rick Alleman2, DVM, PhD, DABVP, DACVP; Ramiro Isaza2, DVM, DACZM
1Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, Polk City, FL, USA; 2Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA


Elephants have been reported with renal disease,3-6 and arthritic elephants are often maintained on long-term administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which have been associated with renal injury in other species.1,2 Therefore, establishment of the reference values of normal urine would be a useful tool to elephant health care.

Routine urinalysis was performed on urine collected from healthy female adult Asian elephants (Elephas maximus, n=30). Elephants were included in the study if they had normal serum urea nitrogen and creatinine serum concentrations, no history of urinary tract disease, and had not received any medication within the past 3 months. Urinalysis included gross description of urine color and clarity, measurement of pH and specific gravity, biochemical analysis and sediment evaluation.8 Presence of protein was assessed by the sulfosalicylic acid tubidimetric test. All urine samples were submitted for aerobic bacterial culture.

Initial findings included identification of calcium carbonate crystals in the urine of most of the animals in this study; some (n=5) contained small numbers of struvite crystals (magnesium ammonium phosphates). Most samples were alkaline, and clarity ranged from clear to flocculent. Specific gravity tended to be fairly low, and isosthenuria was frequent. Trace bilirubin was detected in some samples. No ketonuria or proteinuria was found. Glucosuria, which has been reported as a transient and normal finding in captive elephants,6 was not detected in any samples.

Literature Cited

1.  Forrester, S.D., and G.C. Troy. 1999. Renal effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Compend. Clin. Educ. Pract. Vet. 21: 910–919.

2.  Geor, R.J. 2000. Drug-induced nephrotoxicity: recognition and prevention. Compend. Clin. Educ. Pract. Vet 22(9): 876–878.

3.  Morris, P.J., J.P. Held, and J.M. Jensen. 1987. Clinical pathologic features of chronic renal failure in an African elephant (Loxodonta africana). Proc. First Internat. Conf. Zoo. Avian Med. Pp. 468–472.

4.  Murray, S., M. Bush, and L.A. Tell, 1996. Medical management of postpartum problems in an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) cow and calf. J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 27: 255–258.

5.  Sanchez, C.F., S. Murray, R.J. Montali, and L.H. Spelman. 2004. Diagnosis and treatment of presumptive pyelonephritis in an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 35(3): 397–399.

6.  Simon K.J. 1958. A preliminary study of the urine of elephants. Indian Vet. J. 35:345.


Speaker Information
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Ellen Wiedner, VMD, DACVIM
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation
Polk City, FL, USA

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