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Endocrine Research Laboratory

The Endocrine Research Lab is the only facility in the United States providing extensive monitoring services for tracking the reproductive health of elephants living in North American zoos.

female Asian elephantThe lab is headed by National Zoo reproductive physiologist Janine Brown, a certified elephant-lover, and the Reproduction Advisor to the North American Elephant Taxon Advisory Group, and the Species Survival Plan, both run under the auspices of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Nicole Abbondanza is head laboratory technician.

Brown and her staff work with dozens of zoos across 40 states to conduct hormone evaluations to assess the reproductive status of more than 200 female elephants. This represents more than 60 percent of elephants living in U.S. zoos that are being monitored, and the data are proving to be a major asset in the effort to increase reproduction in zoo elephants.

Services Provided to Zoos Worldwide

  • Careful monitoring of elephant reproductive cycles to identify the best breeding candidates for zoos across North America (see What is the Elephant Estrus Cycle? )
  • Assisting in the use of artificial insemination for elephants based on innovative hormone techniques.
  • Diagnosing and monitoring pregnancy. See how.
  • Managing an extensive elephant bank of frozen blood, serum, plasma, and urine samples.

Other Significant Lab Activities

  • Conduct fundamental research to improve the management and welfare of zoo elephants.
  • Consult on issues related to male and female fertility. Contact Janine Brown for more information.

U.S. Institutions With Which the National Zoo's Diagnostic Lab Works

Albuquerque Biological Park
Abilene Zoo
Alaska Zoo
Baltimore Zoo
Buffalo Zoological Gardens
Bronx Zoo
Busch Gardens
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Chaffee Zoo
Cameron Park Zoo
Denver Zoological Gardens
Elephants of African Rescue Society
Grants Farm
Gladys Porter Zoo
Granby Zoo
Greenville Zoo
Hogle Zoo
Honolulu Zoo
Houston Zoo
Indianapolis Zoo
Jacksonville Zoological Gardens
Kansas City–Friends of the Zoo
Knoxville Zoological Gardens
Louisville Zoological Gardens

Los Angeles Zoo

  Little Rock Zoo
Lee Richardson Zoo
Lowry Park Zoo
Lion Country Safari
Miami Metro Zoo
Milwaukee County Zoo
Memphis Zoo
North Carolina Zoological Park
Nashville Zoo
Oakland Zoo
Oklahoma City Zoo
Omaha Zoo
Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
Philadelphia Zoo
Phoenix Zoo
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
Riverbanks Zoological Society
Roger Williams Park Zoo
Reid Park Zoo
Riddles Elephant Sanctuary
Seneca Park Zoo
Six Flags- Marine World
Sedgwick County Zoo & Botanical Garden
Toledo Zoo
Virginia Zoological Park
Woodland Park Zoo
Wildlife Safari