A coprological survey was conducted to determine the types, prevalence, and intensity of infection of internal parasites in a population of captive African lions (Panthera leo) at a recreational game park in Zimbabwe. Individual fecal samples were collected on three occasions over a 4-month period from each of 30 lions (55%) out of 55 animals held. The samples were examined using flotation and sedimentation techniques to assess the presence and count of parasite eggs, oocysts, and cysts per gram of feces as well as larvae identification. The overall prevalence of helminth infections was 100% (30/30), and 80% (24/30) of fecal samples also were positive for protozoan parasite forms. Eggs of Ancylostoma spp. were found in the feces of 23 (76.7%) lions, Physaloptera sp. in 14 (46.7%) lions, Toxascaris leonina in 13 (43.3%) lions, Toxocara cati in 12 (40%) lions, and Gnathostoma spinigerum and Toxocara canis in 2 (6.7%) lions. Furthermore, eggs of Cylicospirura subequalis, Gnathostoma spp., Lagochilascaris major, Acanthocephalan and Linguatula spp. as well as larvae of Aelurostrongylus sp. were identified in the feces of one lion. Oocysts of five apicomplexan parasites and cysts of one mastigophoran protozoan parasite were recorded, namely, Cystoisospora leonina in 11 (36.7%) lions' feces, Cystoisospora spp. in 9 (30.0%) lions, Cystoisospora felis in 5 (16.7%) lions; Toxoplasma-like spp. in 5 (16.7 %) lions, and Giardia spp. in 8 (26.7%) lions. The majority of lions (28/30) showed mixed infections with different internal parasites, whereas only two animals had single parasite infections. The intensity of infection was relatively low. Some parasite forms observed and identified, such as Eimeria spp. oocysts, were spurious and probably originated from the prey species for the lions. Among the parasites identified were some of zoonotic importance that have health implications for at-risk personnel and visitors who get into contact with the animals.
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