Serum biochemistry of captive and free-ranging gray wolves (Canis lupus)

Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
By: , and 


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Normal serum biochemistry values are frequently obtained from studies of captive sedentary (zoo) or free-ranging (wild) animals. It is frequently assumed that values from these two populations are directly referable to each other. We tested this assumption using 20 captive gray wolves (Canis lupus) in Minnesota, USA, and 11 free-ranging gray wolves in Alaska, USA. Free-ranging wolves had significantly (P<0.05) lower sodium, chloride, and creatine concentrations and significantly higher potassium and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) concentrations; BUN to creatine ratios; and alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and creatine kinase activities relative to captive wolves. Corticosteroid-induced alkaline phosphatase activity (a marker of stress in domestic dogs) was detected in 3 of 11 free-ranging wolves and in 0 of 20 captive wolves (P = 0.037). This study provides clear evidence that serum biochemical differences can exist between captive and free-ranging populations of one species. Accordingly, evaluation of the health status of an animal should incorporate an understanding of the potential confounding effect that nutrition, activity level, and environmental stress could have on the factor(s) being measured.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Serum biochemistry of captive and free-ranging gray wolves (Canis lupus)
Series title Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Volume 29
Issue 4
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
Contributing office(s) Alaska Biological Science Center
Description 6 p.
First page 435
Last page 440