The results of long-term administration of leuprolide acetate (LA) depot in a 52-yr-old Asian elephant bull (Elephas maximus) for control of musth are presented. Twelve injections were administered for 6 yr during our interpretation of early musth or “premusth.” Intervals between musth periods during the study varied from 2 to 34 mo. Blood samples, drawn weekly, were assayed for serum testosterone concentrations; mean levels were 11.78 ± 1.97 nmol/L throughout the first 26 mo of the study, 7.28 ± 1.28 nmol/L during the following 21 mo, and 0.45 ± 0.035 nmol/L in the last 34 mo of this study. Early musth signs ceased within 3 days of drug administration after 10 of 12 injections. The mean serum testosterone concentrations were significantly decreased by the last 34 mo of the study. The results suggest leuprolide is a suitable alternative for controlling or preventing (or both) musth in captive Asian elephants, although permanent reproductive effects may occur. Zoos and wildlife conservation institutions could benefit from the use of LA in Asian elephants to increase the male availability in captivity, consequently ensuring genetic diversity and the perpetuation of the species.
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Vol. 35 • No. 1