Acute pancreatitis in slender-tailed meerkats (suricata suricatta)

Lisa M. Naples, Claude Lacasse, Jennifer A. Landolfi, Jennifer N. Langan, Jrg M. Steiner, Jan S. Suchodolski, Kathryn C. Gamble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Four adult, full-sibling slender-tailed meerkats (Suricata suricatta) were diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. The incident case presented with lethargy, anorexia, abdominal guarding, and a cranial abdominal mass. Serum was grossly lipemic, with elevated cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations and increased amylase and lipase activity. An exploratory laparotomy confirmed chylous peritonitis and included excision of a saponified spleno-duodenal mass, a partial pancreatectomy, and a splenectomy. Histopathology revealed severe, multifocal, subacute necrotizing and granulomatous pancreatitis. Within 13 days of the incident case, the second meerkat was identified with essentially identical clinical, surgical, and histologic findings. During subsequent physical examinations of apparently unaffected cohorts (n = 12), physical and hematologic findings suggestive of pancreatitis were identified in the two remaining siblings of the first two cases. The definitive cause for these four cases is undetermined; however, common risk factors identified were obesity and hyperlipidemia, a change to a higher-fat diet, and genetic predisposition. To assess its usefulness in the diagnosis of meerkat pancreatitis, serum canine and feline pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (cPLI and fPLI) concentrations were measured in serum samples (n 61) from two unrelated meerkat populations. Although these assays are highly sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of pancreatitis in domestic carnivores, similar correlation was not apparent for meerkats. In addition, hyperlipidemia was inconsistently present in many meerkats, with no apparent correlation to the development of clinical illness. Based on these observations, sensitive and specific diagnostic tests for pancreatitis in meerkats are currently unavailable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-286
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 21 2010


  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Meerkat
  • Pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity
  • Pancreatitis
  • Suricata suricatta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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