Increased iron absorption in lemurs: quantitative screening and assessment of dietary prevention.


Iron storage disease (ISD) in lemurs has been reported since as early as the 1960s, and in the 1980s was demonstrated to be a consistent finding in postmortem investigations of captive lemurs. Since then this disease has consistently been diagnosed at the point of necropsy. In the current study we describe a preclinical screening procedure, as well as the quantified preventive effects of dietary intervention upon iron absorption. Twenty-three individual lemurs of four species were initially tested with the transferrin saturation test (%TS); 21 of these animals were on conventional zoo diets, and two were fed a specific diabetic diet. Initially, 20 of 21 lemurs on conventional zoo diets were demonstrated to have %TS levels above the normal range for humans; 17 of these lemurs were in the category (for humans) of excessive iron absorption. A dietary change aimed at reducing dietary iron and vitamin C levels and increasing the levels of iron-chelating tannins and/or phytates was instigated. After the animals were retested, a matched-pair comparison of %TS values before and after the diet change revealed significantly (P=0.038, n=7) lower %TS values after the diet change. All species averages were in the human hyperabsorption range on conventional zoo diets (n=21). No species averages were in that range after the dietary change (n=18). The results indicate that further investigations into the use of %TS testing in lemur husbandry, and specific preventive dietary measures, should be conducted.

Cite this paper

@article{Wood2003IncreasedIA, title={Increased iron absorption in lemurs: quantitative screening and assessment of dietary prevention.}, author={Caryl Wood and Sandy G. Fang and Annie Hunt and Wolf J{\"{u}rgen Streich and Marcus Clauss}, journal={American journal of primatology}, year={2003}, volume={61 3}, pages={101-10} }