CZAAWE Resource Article

Patterns of excretion of fecal estradiol and progesterone and urinary chorionic gonadotropin in Grevy’s zebras (Equus grevyi): Ovulatory cycles and pregnancy
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Abstract The ovulatory cycle and pregnancy of the endangered Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) was characterized by analyzing excretion patterns of fecal estradiol and progesterone. Pregnancy was further described by assay of urinary equine chorionic gonadotropin. Courtship and mating behavior were similar to that seen in the domestic horse, but cycle length was longer, ranging from 28 to 35 days. Steroid hormone profiles during pregnancy were likewise similar to the horse, but gestation length was longer (391 and 406 days) in the two mature mares. A young mare was first seen to mate when 1 year 3 months of age, at which time she conceived but then aborted at 101 days’ gestation. Conception occurred after one and possibly two more abortions. A healthy foal was born after a gestation period of 425 days, when the mare was 3 years 4 months old, the youngest age at first foaling to be reported for this species. Equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) was first detected between 35 and 40 days’ gestation, as in the horse, returning to baseline at about 195 days. However, in one young mare, eCG was also detectable around the time of ovulation. The eCG antibody may have cross-reacted with luteinizing hormone, which would have been reaching peak concentrations at about that time. The general agreement of the endocrine results with observed occurrence of mating behavior and of parturition demonstrates that assay of excreted hormones can be used to document puberty, monitor ovarian cycles, and diagnose and monitor pregnancy in Grevy’s zebra mares. Zoo Biol 20:185–195, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.