Serum lipid levels were measured in 66 healthy sloth bears (Melursus ursinus ursinus) living under semicaptive conditions with access to natural food resources in the Bannerghatta Biological Park (Karnataka, India), a portion of their native habitat range in the Indian peninsula. Total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were analyzed. The effects of age, body weight, and season on these lipid parameters were statistically evaluated. There were no correlations between age and any of the serum lipid parameters analyzed. Positive correlations of body weight to both triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels in these bears were identified. In addition, seasonal trends in physiological serum lipid values, potentially due to variations in the sloth bear diet, were identified. Serum triglyceride levels were higher during postmonsoon season and cholesterol levels were higher during winter compared to other seasons. Serum lipid values obtained from sloth bears in this study were also compared to previously published data on other members of the family Ursidae. This is the first report of serum lipid values as a reference for sloth bears. These values can be used as sensitive predictors of overall health and nutritional status to aid in the captive management and feeding of these bears.
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