Thesis Title

Correlation of serum and fecal progesterone and estradiol-17 during pregnancy, pseudopregnancy and non-pregnancy of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Date of Graduation

Spring 2001


Master of Natural and Applied Science in Agriculture


College of Agriculture

Committee Chair

Dennis Schmitt

Subject Categories



The preservation of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) hinges not only on conservation of wild populations, but also on successful reproduction within our captive population. Validation of hormone monitoring through the use of feces could eliminate the necessity of collecting serial blood samples, greatly increasing the ease and, in some cases, making possible the use of artificial insemination in breeding programs. Serial serum and concurrent fecal samples were collected once weekly from three female cheetahs, with additional data generated from three previous sampling periods from a fourth female. Samples represent episodes of pregnancy (n=4), pseudopregnancy (n=1) and non-pregnancy (n=1). Induction of ovulation and artifical insemination were attempted in two animals, resulting in one pseudopregnancy and one pregnancy that terminated spontaneously approximately 30-40 days into gestation. Radioimmunoassay and analysis revealed two (of six) significant correlations for progesterone (p <0.05) and p <0.01) as well as a significant (p<0.01) trend for positive correlation between serum and fecal progesterone. Fecal estradiol-17ß did not significantly parallel serum estradiol-17ß in any instance. Low levels of correlation between fecal and serum hormone dynamics may reflect the frequency of sampling, the influence of diet and health, and the time required for the metabolism of circulatory steroid hormones. Although inconclusive for estradiol-17ß, results suggest that the measurement of fecal progesterone metabolites has the potential to be a viable means of studying the reproductive biology of the cheetah.


© Karen M. Bailey