Normal urinary mineral excretion levels in African elephants (Loxodonta africana)


Miller M, Yoshizawa J, Terrell S. 2009. Normal urinary mineral excretion levels in African elephants (Loxodonta africana). In Ward A, Treiber K, Schmidt D, Coslik A, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Eighth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Tulsa, OK.


Metabolic bone disease has occurred in several incidences of elephant neonates hand-reared on milk replacement formula. Monitoring for metabolic bone disease historically has been done through serum calcium and phosphorus concentrations. Serum concentrations are tightly regulated and changes in concentration are typically not evident until skeletal changes have already occurred. Urinary calcium and phosphorus excretion levels may provide earlier evidence of nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism and allow intervention before development of severe and irreversible bony changes. Free-catch urine collection also offers a less-invasive and less-stressful alternative to blood collection, particularly when working with non-domestic species. In this study, we establish normal urinary mineral excretion values based on six healthy African elephants of various ages.

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