A comparative analysis of ejaculate and hormonal characteristics of the captive male cheetah, tiger, leopard, and puma.

D. E. Wildt, Lyndsay Phillips, L. G. Simmons, P. K. Chakraborty, J. L. Brown, J. G. Howard, A. Teare, M. Bush

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Male cheetahs, tigers, leopards, and pumas maintained under the same conditions were anesthetized and 1) serially bled before, during, and after electroejaculation (EE); 2) serially bled only (AO); or 3) serially bled before and after receiving adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH). Ejaculates from leopards contained higher (p less than 0.05) sperm concentrations than cheetahs and pumas but lower (p less than 0.05) sperm motility ratings than all other species. Tigers produced a larger seminal volume and the greatest number of motile sperm/ejaculate (p less than 0.05). The percentage of morphologically abnormal spermatozoa was greater (p less than 0.05) in cheetahs (64.6%), leopards (79.5%), and pumas (73.5%) than in tigers (37.5%). The most prevalent spermatozoal deformities included a tightly coiled or bent flagellum, a deranged midpiece, or a residual cytoplasmic droplet. Mean baseline serum cortisol concentrations in leopards were 2- and 4-fold greater (p less than 0.05) than in tigers and cheetahs, respectively. Basal cortisol concentrations in pumas were similar to those of tigers, but irrespective of treatment increased 2-fold (p less than 0.01) during the bleeding period. An acute rise and fall in cortisol attributable to EE was observed only in cheetahs. In tigers and leopards, mean peak cortisol concentrations after ACTH were similar to maximal values observed after EE. However, peak cortisol levels in cheetahs and pumas after ACTH were greater (p less than 0.01) than the concentrations measured after EE, indicating that these manipulatory procedures were not eliciting a maximal adrenal response. In the EE groups, luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone levels in cheetahs were lower (p less than 0.05) than in other species, whereas levels of both hormones were comparable (p greater than 0.05) in tigers, leopards, and pumas. Elevated cortisol levels in cheetahs and pumas had no discernible effect on LH/testosterone patterns; however, the results were equivocal in tigers, and, among leopards, testosterone concentrations consistently declined over time. In this study, using a standardized approach, we identify different ejaculate and endocrine characteristics of captive cheetahs, tigers, leopards, and pumas. The data extend earlier observations and demonstrate that some, but not all, Felidae species ejaculate high numbers of pleiomorphic spermatozoa. However, inter-species differences in sperm integrity do not appear related to inter-species variations in cortisol, LH, or testosterone. The observation of continuously declining testosterone concentrations only in leopards after AO, EE, or ACTH treatment suggests that rising and/or elevated cortiso

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-255
Number of pages11
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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