Effects of exercise on the plasma lipid profile in hispaniolan amazon parrots (Amazona ventralis) with naturally occurring hypercholesterolemia

Kate A. Gustavsen, Kimber Stanhope, Amy S. Lin, James L. Graham, Peter J Havel, Joanne R Paul-Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Hypercholesterolemia is common in psittacines, and Amazon parrots (Amazona spp.) are particularly susceptible. Associations have been demonstrated between naturally occurring and experimentally induced hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis in psittacines. Daily exercise improves lipid metabolism in humans and other mammals, as well as pigeons and chickens, under varying experimental conditions. Hispaniolan Amazon parrots (Amazona ventralis) with naturally occurring hypercholesterolemia (343-576 mg/dl) were divided into two groups. An exercised group (n = 8) was housed as a flock and exercised daily with 30 min of aviary flight and 30 min walking on a rotating perch. A sedentary control group (n = 4) was housed in individual cages with no exercise regime. A plasma lipid panel, including total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides, was validated for this species. Body weight, chest girth, and the lipid panel were measured at 0, 61, and 105 days. Hematology and plasma biochemistry were measured at 0 and 105 days. Weight and girth were significantly lower in exercised than sedentary parrots at 61 and 105 days. HDL-C concentrations were significantly higher in exercised parrots at 61 days but returned to near baseline by 105 days. There were no significant changes in hematology, biochemistry, or other lipid panel parameters. Results were similar to studies in humans and animal models, in which increased HDL-C was the most consistent effect of exercise on circulating lipid and lipoprotein parameters. The return toward baseline HDL-C may have resulted from decreased participation in aviary flight. Additional investigation will be required to determine the amount of exercise and change in circulating lipid-related parameters necessary to improve long-term wellness in psittacine species predisposed to hypercholesterolemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)760-769
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Amazona ventralis
  • cholesterol
  • exercise
  • HDL
  • Hispaniolan Amazon parrot
  • LDL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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