Endocrine studies, also known as endocrinology, are a focus of biological science which studies glands and the hormones they produce. By monitoring the output of different hormones from a person, plant or animal we can learn many things about the way their body systems function, from digestion and thermal regulation to reproductive function!
Using enzyme linked immunoassays, also known as ELISA, we can monitor hormones metabolites excreted in the animal's waste. This way we can collect multiple samples from individual animals without the need to alter the course of their regular day or complete any invasive procedures. Ongoing projects include the collaboration with conservation partners to validate standardized ELISA kits that will detect hormone metabolites from obtained samples. As well, ELISA research is conducted as part of one-time research projects. For example, African Lion Safari has studied how hormones can correlate with when birds want to migrate.
In addition, African Lion Safari strives to improve and develop artificial reproductive technologies, also known as ART’s. ART technology works collaboratively with animal care staff, vet staff, and the research team. Current research is underway to examine the development of protocols for the rescue of gametes for various species. Other initiatives strive to develop procedures regarding higher quality assessment of sperm. Our gamete research will continue to form partnerships and testing of protocols for cryopreservation.
African Lion Safari research staff are working towards developing in house endocrine testing for the animals in our collection. Monitoring endocrine hormones such as the sexual steroids testosterone and progesterone allow us to better care for the animals in our care and contributes to on-going efforts including conservation breeding.
ART technology has been incredibly significant in the conservation of Rothschild Giraffe. In 2013, African Lion Safari welcomed “Safari”, Canada’s first giraffe conceived through AI and only second time ever in the world! Then, in 2017 and 2018, African Lion Safari welcomed the first & second giraffe calves in the world to be conceived by AI using frozen semen.
Along with using IRT, African Lion Safari is working towards validating a commercially available kit to monitor estrus in female cheetahs.
African Lion Safari has been studying the correlation between the migratory urge in Eastern Loggerhead Shrike to its hormones.