Long-term suppression of fertility in female giraffe using the GnRH agonist deslorelin as a long-acting implant

Zoological institutions provide an environment conducive to studying proximate mechanisms influencing reproduction that can provide guidance to both field and captive settings seeking to manage their stock. Both national parks and zoos have space limitations that sometimes require the use of reversible contraception in order to reduce reproductive rate or limit specific individuals from reproducing. We designed a study to test the efficacy of a long-lasting contraceptive in female giraffe by monitoring reproductive endocrinology and behavior. We implanted two animals with the GnRH agonist deslorelin and monitored their endocrine status using fecal steroid analysis. We have previously validated an assay for fecal pregnanes and here we report our validation for fecal estrogens. Both sex steroid concentrations were suppressed in two females, although one female exhibited an immediate post-implantation positive feedback response. Sexual activity nearly disappeared in one animal, whereas the other showed regular sexual behavior. The contraceptive effect lasted for at least 472 d, and successfully suppressed estrous cyclicity in one female for >2 y. We conclude that deslorelin implants provide a minimally invasive means for long-term suppression of reproduction in female giraffe.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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