Endometriosis in Captive Critters?

monkey in a tree
Female Mandrillus Sphinx

So we’ve previously read about a German Shepherd being diagnosed with Endometriosis. Today we’re going to talk about Mandrills (a form of primate that used to be considered a Baboon) who had been diagnosed with Endo. I’ve read a lot of previous studies where Endometriosis was purposely implanted into critters for study and dissection, but these primates weren’t for study.

There was a study from 2012 about a Mandrill that had died after showing signs of weakness and peritoneal bleeding.  Upon autopsy they found her uterus was covered in blood clots and it was stuck to her ovaries and pelvic wall.  The biopsy confirmed she had Endometriosis.  This is considered the first confirmed case of Endo in a Mandrill.

Now, onto the 2016 article that landed in my inbox this week…but unlike the 2012 study, these two captive primates had surgery! Here’s their stories:

An 18-year-old Mandrill became lethargic and partially anorexic around her period (menses, if you want to be all scientific). She’d been housed with a mate and after three years of breeding had never become pregnant.  Her symptoms were treated with Ibuprofen, and resolved within 2 hours of administration.  Thirty-three days later, her symptoms returned…so her Keepers decided to check her out.  Upon physical examination, her abdomen was found to have “firm swellings” on her right side (5cm in diameter) and her left side (3cm in diameter).  Imaging studies confirmed she had cysts.  They drained one of the cysts via ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration and biopsied the dark fluid they collected : it seemed consistent with Endometriosis.  Several weeks later, her Keepers decided to treat her with Lupron Depot, which ended up shrinking the cysts some.  They administered Lupron Depot three additional times (by blow dart, I might add).  Three months after her last injection, her symptoms returned.  This time they treated her with Metacam (aka Meloxicam), which seemed to resolve her symptoms.  Fast forward another year, when her symptoms again returned.  Thirteen months later, she presented to the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center for examination because her discomfort seemed “significant.”  She again had masses on her right and left sides, confirmed via ultrasound.  As a result of the findings and her continuing discomfort, they spayed her.  That’s right; removed her ovaries and her uterus.  During the surgery, they found adhesions (scar tissue) between her bladder, peritoneum, ovaries, and uterus, which severely affected the “architecture within the abdomen.”  While removing the adhesions, her surgeons found numerous chocolate cysts (Endometriomas), which were also removed.  During recovery, she was given pain killers and another two injections (one per month) of Lupron Depot.  She received a confirmed diagnosis of Endometriosis.

A 24-year-old Mandrill underwent a routine ultrasound and they found “uterine changes,” including thickening of her lining.  Everything else appeared normal.  Three years later, she was seen for painful periods and bleeding from her rectum, but only during her period.  The following month, these symptoms returned.  They waited until her next period to perform and ultrasound and found a 2cm cyst on her left ovary, and could easily identify her right ovary; the uterus and cervix appeared normal.  She also had a colonoscopy, which was normal, but they found her anus to have signs of trauma.  She was given Lupron Depot, Tramadol, and Meloxicam for her symptoms and pain…(sound familiar for some of you reading this?).  Despite the Lupron Depot, her symptoms worsened over the next three months.  They decided to open her up and see what they could see.  Her bladder was normal, but it was stuck to the side of her uterus by adhesions.  Adhesions were also present between her bladder and her colon. Her ovaries were covered in adhesions, and they couldn’t even identify the right ovary because it was so obliterated.  They were able to only remove three-quarters of her uterus because the last of it was too risky to remove without damaging other organs.  The surgeons were also to remove a lot of her scar tissue.  After biopsy, it was confirmed that she suffered from Endometriosis.  She was given Tramadol and Meloxicam after surgery for a few days of recovery.

This study drew an interesting parallel to the suffering and treatment between humans and non-humans with this horrible disease.  And I wish that the authors had been able to publish how those two Mandrills were doing since their surgeries.

I’m both fascinated and horrified at the same time on how these stories are so similar to those of sooooo many women.  Those poor critters suffered…and suffered through Lupron Depot.  And it breaks my heart that, whereas I can whine and complain and cry, these two hairy ladies could not. At least not in a way their Keepers could understand.

This disease just got a lot more ugly to me.  And I didn’t think that was possible…




Journal of Comparative Pathology – (Abstract; Aug.-Oct. 2012) Spontaneous Endometriosis in a Mandrill (Mandrillus Sphinx)

Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine – (Abstract; June 2016) Management of Endometriosis in Two Captive Mandrills (Mandrillus Sphinx)

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research. Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

5 thoughts on “Endometriosis in Captive Critters?

  1. Wow, can’t be easy when you can’t express your suffering. In a troop showing weakness is not done so who knows how long these girls were crippled. They had it bad. I wonder then if this could be found in other animals, particularly certain species that experience low fertility? I wouldn’t be surprised to find it in cetaceans.

    Liked by 1 person

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