Koester, Diana C., Wildt, David E., Brown, Janine L., Meeks, Karen, and Crosier, Adrienne E. 2017. "Public Exposure and Number of Conspecifics have no Influence on Ovarian and Adrenal Activity in the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)." General and comparative endocrinology 243:120-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2016.11.010
Cheetahs in managed zoological collections do not reproduce efficiently, a problem that may be related to environmental/management stressors. In this study, we examined 17 adult female cheetahs to determine the influence of two environmental factors, (1) being housed on- or off-exhibit and (2) number of adult conspecifics (males and/or females) in nearby enclosures, on profiles and concentrations of ovarian and adrenal hormones. Secondarily, we assessed a subset of group-housed siblings (n = 5 in groups of 2 or 3) for effects of long-term cohabitation. All of the females demonstrated waves of estrogen excretion (indicative of ovarian activity) as well as occasional periods of no estrogen production (anestrus). Glucocorticoid and estrogen concentrations were correlated within an individual (rs = 0.56; P 0.05) on estrogen or glucocorticoid metabolite excretory patterns. Although we recently reported that public exposure can negatively affect sperm production, ovarian steroidogenesis in females was unaffected. There also was no evidence of hyper-adrenal activity. Thus, different methods of ex situ management appear to have minimal influence on ovarian function or stress susceptibility of female cheetahs.