The ability to control testosterone concentrations and sperm production is of great interest in both Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephants. GnRH vaccination may pose an alternative to surgical castration. This is a case report of a male Asian elephant treated with two commercial GnRH vaccines (Equity® and Improvac®). Beginning at the age of 7 yr, the male was vaccinated monthly for 6 consecutive months, then every 6 mo and, finally, every 12 to 24 mo over a period of 6 yr. In order to evaluate the GnRH vaccine as a potential method of immunologic castration, behavioral observations, testosterone level analysis, body weights, ultrasound examinations, and semen collection were part of the routine monitoring of this bull (no. 1) and a half-brother (bull 2) who remained untreated and served as control. The results showed a decrease in serum testosterone concentrations after the second booster. Levels stayed continuously below 5.0 ng/ml within the study period. The combined testicle diameter of 9.03 ± 0.3 cm prior to treatment had decreased to a size of 6.93 ± 0.19 cm (P < 0.001) when measured 2 yr later. Accessory sex gland fluid content disappeared and penile atrophy was observed. Semen collections yielded no spermatozoa 1 yr after the initial treatment. Bull 1 showed slowed weight gain as compared to bull 2 and, due to its friendly temperament and the absence of musth, remained in free contact. This report documents the GnRH vaccine as a possible noninvasive and inexpensive method for immunecastration.
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