Complete health assessments were performed on 20 adult ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta), 10 males and 10 females, free ranging within the Tsimanampetsotsa Strict Nature Reserve in southwest Madagascar. Each animal was anesthetized using tiletamine and zolazepam, weighed, and given a thorough physical examination. Blood was collected for hematology, determination of plasma total protein concentration, serum chemistry, determination of fat-soluble vitamin and trace mineral concentrations, assessment of iron metabolism, toxoplasmosis and viral serologies, and examination for parasites. Feces were collected for bacterial culture and parasite examination, and representative numbers of ectoparasites were collected. Blood values differed significantly in a number of ways from values in captive lemurs, possibly associated with recent food consumption, hydration, and diet. There was no evidence of serious infectious disease and no hemoparasites. The enteric flora appeared unremarkable, although results may have been skewed toward cold-tolerant bacteria. The fecal parasite burden was low, but there were large numbers of ectoparasites (mites) present. Our study demonstrated that a substantial amount of data can be collected from free-ranging populations, information that is invaluable in the management of captive populations, particularly with regard to disease, and in assessing risks associated with reintroduction programs.
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Vol. 34 • No. 1