Ulcerative oral and skin lesions have become an issue of concern for the health of the managed black rhinoceros (rhino) (Diceros bicornis) populations. Lesions exhibited by the black rhino are clinically similar to those observed in other species with superficial necrolytic dermatitis (SND). One biochemical alteration in dogs with SND is severe hypoaminoacidemia, and nearly all cases are fatal. The objective of this study was to determine if black rhinos with analogous lesions exhibit a similar hypoaminoacidemia. Amino acid concentrations were measured in monthly plasma samples collected for 1 yr from black rhinos with (n = 4) and without (n = 34) lesions clinically consistent with SND. The rhinos with skin and/or oral lesions were zoo born males, ages 2, 6, 17, and 23 yr, from four different facilities. Three rhinos recovered from skin (n = 2) and oral lesions (n = 1). However, the one male with both skin and oral lesions died with the disease. None of the affected black rhinos exhibited a decrease in any of the amino acids evaluated or for total amino acid concentrations (P > 0.05). Based on the absence of hypoaminoacidemia and the comparatively low mortality rate in rhinos with lesions, it appears that this syndrome is not entirely consistent with SND observed in other species. These data will be useful for future assessments of rhino nutritional status and other potential metabolic diseases.
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