Management and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency Rickets in Captive-Born Juvenile Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2000
Randall E. Junge1, MS, DVM, DACZM; Francis H. Gannon2, MD; Ingrid Porton1, MS; William H. McAlister3, MD; Michael P. Whyte3,4, MD
1St. Louis Zoological Park, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO, USA; 2Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC, USA; 3School of Medicine, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA; 4Metabolic Research Unit, Shriners Hospital for Children, St. Louis, MO, USA


Vitamin D deficiency rickets was diagnosed in three juvenile chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) raised indoors under skylights and consuming only breast milk. Cases detected early had mild but characteristic radiographic changes. More advanced disease presented with florid radiographic features of rickets, pathologic fractures, as well as hypocalcemia, hypophosphatemia, and low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. Treatment by a single injection of vitamin D2 in sesame oil (slow release) followed by daily oral supplementation with vitamin D2 corrected the condition. Based on experience with these cases and comparison to humans, a treatment protocol for mother-reared, inside-housed, chimpanzee juveniles was developed. Intramuscular injection once with 5000 units vitamin D2 slow release at 4 months of age, followed by oral supplementation of 400 units vitamin D2 daily until weaning, is effective in preventing rickets in juvenile chimpanzees raised indoors.


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Randall E. Junge, MS, DVM, DACZM
St. Louis Zoological Park
Forest Park
St. Louis, MO, USA

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