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Laparoscopic salpingectomy in two captive leopards using a single portal access system

leopard laparoscopyleopard laparoscopy

(A new surgical technique for sterilizing leopards is described for the first time).

Ongoing collaboration with scientists and the conservation authorities and working closely with the farming community allows for studies to be conducted that provide valuable information on large carnivores and their long-term conservation in Namibia.

AfriCat has been involved in a number of studies involving the carnivore 'ambassadors' at AfriCat, captive and free-roaming.

The annual health examinations of the cats at AfriCat give invited specialist veterinarians the opportunity to conduct research of various aspects of animal health, particularly those relating to the health of large carnivores in captivity. As well as providing expert information on the health of AfriCat’s animals, the examinations also allow for the comparison of results with similar studies being conducted on large carnivores in other captive facilities. Some of this information can also be used to gain insight into the health and management of large carnivores in the wild.

Recent legislation in Namibia requires all large carnivores in captivity to be permanently sterilized. This means that surgical options need to be explored in many species, including leopards.

Surgical sterilization in females can be achieved in a number of ways. These include ovario-hysterectomy (in which the ovaries and uterus are removed), ovariectomy (in which the ovaries are removed) and salpingectomy (in which a portion of the fallopian tubes is removed, thus preventing the egg reaching the uterus). The advantage of this last method is that it does not affect the hormone production of the animal, and so the risk that an animal’s behavior and physiology will change post-surgery is very small. For this reason it was the method of choice in the case of two leopards sterilized at AfriCat, using, for the first time described in literature, a single portal access system laparoscopic technique.

Laparoscopic surgery (keyhole surgery) has advantages over open surgery. There is lower risk of wound infection, for example, and recovery is generally quick and uncomplicated.

Salpingectomies and ovariectomies had been already been performed using this laparoscopic technique in cheetahs at the facility prior to the surgery on these two leopards. The surgeons found that, because the anatomy of the relevant organs was very similar in leopards to the comparable organs in lions and cheetahs on which this technique had been used before, they were therefore able to easily adapt the techniques used in those species. They completed the two procedures on these leopards safely, easily and quickly, showing that laparoscopic salpingectomy is a practical and viable option for permanent sterilization of leopard females.

Read the full research report: Laparoscopic salpingectomy in two captive leopards using a single portal access system

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