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Anim Reprod Sci. 2011 May;125(1-4):204-10. doi: 10.1016/j.anireprosci.2011.02.003. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

Daily fecal sex steroid hormonal changes and mating success in captive female cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) in Japan.

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Faunal Diversity Sciences, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kobe University, Rokkodai 1-1, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501, Japan.


Daily fecal estrogen and progestin concentrations were measured by enzyme immunoassay in five female cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) for 4-6 months. The animals were housed under different conditions: (1) a female always housed in a group including one or more males; (2) two females isolated individually for short or long periods; (3) the other two females housed together. These females were separately housed with males for mating around the time of the estrogen peaks. The hormone profiles were similar in all five females regardless of the housing conditions. However, only the female that had been isolated from other cheetahs for over a year mated and reproduce cubs successfully, whereas the remaining four did not (one was isolated for only 6 weeks, another was always housed with males and the other two were housed together). In all females, the estrogen peaks were obtained at regular intervals of approximately 8-15 days. Unlike estrogen, the progestin concentrations were always low in all females except during pregnancy and they did not increase following the estrogen surges. These results showed that female cheetahs are typically reflex ovulators and female receptiveness may not be reflected to her hormonal states. It was also suspected that individual housing and long-term separation are advantageous for breeding this wild cat in captivity, mimicking the ecological/behavioral patterns in the wild, though housing condition might have no effect on the estrous cycle.

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