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Keywords:

  • haemosiderin;
  • haemosiderosis;
  • hepatopathy;
  • hepcidin;
  • iron storage disease;
  • liver

A 23-year-old Brazilian, or lowland, tapir with a 6-month history of loss of body condition developed clinical signs and laboratory findings consistent with liver failure. The animal was euthanased and a diagnosis of hepatic haemochromatosis was made based on histopathology. Two other healthy tapirs in the same collection had chronically elevated serum and tissue iron concentrations. The excessive accumulation of iron in tissues with resultant tissue damage (i.e. haemochromatosis) has been reported in a range of captive species. This and other reported cases of haemochromatosis in the Brazilian tapir would suggest that this condition is an important consideration in the management of this species in zoos. Further research into the endogenous regulation of iron metabolism, especially the role of hepcidin, in tapirs and other species at risk of iron storage disorders may be helpful in the prevention of this condition.