A diagnostics firm is working with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to develop an immunoassay system capable of monitoring pregnancy in elephants at Whipsnade Zoo.

Karishma’s calf, Elizabeth.

The device is being developed by AgPlus Diagnostics to be used on-site by the ZSL veterinary team, which is considered world-leading in elephant conservation.

Groundbreaking trial

In the first trial of its kind, the ZSL team – together with scientists at AgPlus – have used the newly developed system to monitor the progesterone levels of Karishma, one of Whipsnade’s Asian elephants.

Karishma, who is part of the European Endangered Species Programme, was monitored during her recent pregnancy prior to the birth of her calf Elizabeth.

Tailored care

If it is decided the trial was successful, it is hoped AgPlus will be able to provide ZSL – and other collections with breeding programmes – with customised, handheld, portable diagnostic systems for on-site measurements, allowing tailored animal care, as well as saving time and cost.

AgPlus Diagnostics was formed in 2011 as a spin out, commercialising the technology developed at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, Greater London.

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