Zinc toxicosis in a captive striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena)

Dalen W. Agnew, Robyn B. Barbiers, Robert H Poppenga, Gary L. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


An 11-yr-old captive-born female striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) acutely developed lameness and swelling of the left front foot with anorexia, depression, and lethargy. Hematologic evaluation revealed regenerative anemia, azotemia, and other mild serum electrolyte and mineral abnormalities. Twenty radiographically visible coins and 10 coin fragments were removed by laparotomy and gastrotomy following unsuccessful medical therapy. The animal died during anesthetic recovery. Zinc serum levels were 41.0 ppm at first presentation and 36.0 ppm at the time of surgery, compared with concentrations of 1.78 ppm and 2.82 ppm for serum taken from this female and a male hyena 3 mo previously. Zinc toxicosis was diagnosed based on the similarity of clinical signs to those described in dogs, presence in the stomach of pennies minted after 1982 (when the zinc content of U.S. pennies was increased substantially), necropsy findings, and elevated serum and liver zinc values. The case highlights the risk posed by penny ingestion for subsequent zinc toxicosis in captive omnivores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-434
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Anemia
  • Hyaena hyaena
  • Striped hyena
  • Zinc toxicosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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