Circulating Levels of Cortisol and Aldosterone in the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): A Comparative Look at Display Animals
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2000
Christopher Dold1, BS; Jay Sweeney1, DVM; Tom Reidarson2, DVM, DACZM; Jim McBain2, DVM; Steve Monfort3, DVM, PhD
1Dolphin Quest , OCI Inc., San Diego, CA, USA; 2Sea World—San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA; 3Conservation and Research Center, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Front Royal, VA, USA
In an effort to explore stress levels experienced by Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) that participate in interactive programs with the public, serum levels of cortisol and aldosterone were measured from two populations of animals maintained in display environments. Samples collected from a defined “non-stressed” population involved in purely display programs (n=10) were compared with those collected from animals involved in interactive programs (n=26). Cortisol and aldosterone levels from the display population ranged from 4.0–14.0 ng/ml (mean=6.9 ng/ml) and 20.0–67.2 pg/ml (mean=26.0 pg/ml) respectively. Animals in interactive programs had cortisol levels ranging from 4.0–14.8 ng/ml range (mean=6.4 ng/ml) and aldosterone levels ranged 20.0–101.2 pg/ml (mean=35.2 pg/ml). There was no significant difference in circulating levels of cortisol (p>0.05) and aldosterone (p>0.05) between the two populations. Interestingly, the cortisol levels obtained in this study were lower than those previously published, suggesting the need to further explore baseline levels of stress hormones in this species.