Response of fecal cortisol to stress in captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)



This study examined whether fecal cortisol could be used as an index of stress responses. The stress responsiveness of fecal cortisol was tested with a stressor known to stimulate adrenal activity, the stress of anesthesia. Daily fecal and urine samples were collected from four captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) before and after anesthetizations with Telazol®/Ketasat®. Tests of assay validity indicated that cortisol was measurable in chimpanzee fecal extracts. Fecal cortisol concentrations were significantly elevated 2 days after anesthetization, with elevations in seven of the eight treatments. The posttreatment peak was significantly greater than baseline values in three of the four subjects. Both fecal concentrations and proportionate increases in response to stress were significantly correlated with the corresponding values in urinary cortisol, confirming the stressfulness of these procedures and the stress responsiveness of fecal cortisol. These findings provide evidence for the application of fecal cortisol as a noninvasive index of physiologic stress in nonhuman primates. Am. J. Primatol. 44:57–69, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.