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General

The endocrinology laboratory of DPZ provides an endocrine service for the measurement of steroid hormones. We offer to quantify hormones (e.g. progesterone, testosterone, cortisol) in blood and saliva, and their metabolites in urine and faeces, reflecting male and female reproductive and adrenocortical activity (stress). By this, we provide the tools and carry out hormone analyses for implementing a physiological dimension into research projects.

In addition, we offer a service in endocrine diagnostics of reproductive and stress physiology to support captive breeding programmes for primates (and other mammal species, see below). This service is mainly used by zoos to facilitate the husbandry and breeding management of endangered species, in particular all species of great apes. Here, for example, using urinary and faecal hormone measurements, we assess the fertility status and/or confirm and monitor pregnancy of the potential breeding females.

(c) Heistermann
Temporal profile of a faecal progesterone metabolite in a zoo-housed female orang utan demonstrating irregularities in ovarian activity (Ov = ovulation)

In addition, we offer our diagnostic service to help zoos monitoring the reproductive status of their elephants and rhinos. In particular, for more than 20 years we have now supported the breeding management and welfare of the populations of Asian and African elephants within the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) by weekly hormone analyses. In the previous years, more than 40 elephant keeping institutions have used this service and so far we have provided hormonal data on reproductive status for a total of more than 300 females of both species. Currently we monitor more than 80 animals in 24 zoos all over Europe. If you are interested to make use of our service, look here for further information. 

(c) Heistermann
Profile of the urinary progesterone metabolite pregnanetriol in a female Asian elephant demonstrating two ovarian cycles followed by a successful pregnancy