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Prosimian Necropsy Protocol  (Revised Jan 2007) 
Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group

The following are a recommended necropsy protocol and report form (which may be used if you do not have your own forms).

Please send copies of necropsy reports to the appropriate veterinary advisor (see below) and the Prosimian TAG Pathology Advisor (Dr. Ilse Stalis). Necropsy reports should include a thorough description of all lesions and a complete clinical history. If a second opinion is needed, please send duplicate histopathology slides to the TAG Pathology Advisor. If a complete set or tissues could not be processed for histologic evaluation, to preserve valuable information please send a complete set of  tissues to the pathology advisor if possible. These tissues will be archived, but unfortunately, a report will not be generated for most cases.  CAUTION: Histopathology blocks (paraffin embedded tissues) are an extremely valuable resource. Some laboratories may discard the blocks after a few years. If your lab does not save these blocks, please ask for the blocks and save them at your facility.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or comments.  

Veterinary Advisors: 

Prosimian TAG Veterinary   Sifakas, Bamboo lemurs,

Advisor; Eulemur spp  Ruffed lemurs, nocturnal lemurs

Randy Junge, DVM   Cathy Williams, DVM

St. Louis Zoological Park  Duke Lemur Center

One Government Drive  3705 Erwin Road

St. Louis, MO 63110   Durham NC 27705

(314) 768-5487   (919) 489-3364, ext 221 

Ring-tailed Lemurs   Lorises

Roberta Wallace, DVM  Meg Sutherland-Smith , DVM

Milwaukee County Zoo  San Diego Zoo

10001 West Blue Mound Road PO Box 551

Milwaukee, WI 53226  San Diego, CA 92112

(414) 256-2522  

Pathology Advisor:  

Ilse Stalis, DVM  
U.S. Postal Service address: Wildlife Disease Laboratories, PO Box 120551,San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA 92112-0551  
Courier service shipping address: Wildlife Disease Laboratories, San Diego Zoo, 1354 Old Globe Way, San Diego, CA 92101  
phone: 619-231-1515, ext 4487 fax: 619-232-1643 e-mail:

A necropsy is an excellent source of information about diseases. This procedure may seem too involved for many of you who are severely short on time. However, the more tissues we have to look at, the more information we will have and the better the results. Examination of organs not directly involved in the death of an animal provides control samples and gives a better understanding of other disease that may occur in that species. Diseases often affect more than one organ and sampling only one or a few organs limits the amount of information available and our understanding of diseases. A necropsy can be very time consuming, but the more time you can devote to a necropsy and the more samples you take (including formalin-fixed and frozen), the more likely that a pathologist can give a complete answer. The better our understanding of disease, the better we will be able to treat and prevent disease.  


General recommendations: A detailed examination of the exterior of the animal should be done before dissection in preformed. Carcass weights and measurements should be collected. Radiographs should be considered as well to assist in detection of subtle bone changes. 

Histopathology: Tissue sections should be no thicker than 1 cm. Exceptions are: healthy lung which may be slightly thicker, eyes which should be fixed whole and intact (i.e., not punctured), and brain which should be fixed whole. Ideally, flat tissues such as intestine, skin and sciatic nerve should be placed on cardboard during fixation to prevent curling of tissues. Tissues should be placed in 10% neutral buffered formalin with FORMALIN AT 10 TIMES THE VOLUME OF TISSUES. Otherwise, inadequate fixation will occur. Once tissues are completely fixed they can be mailed or saved in a smaller volume of formalin.  

For toxicological studies: Tissues should be saved wrapped in aluminum foil or saved in glass. If stored in plastic, leaching of plastic compounds can occur and interfere with toxicological analysis. Tissues for toxicology can be saved in a regular freezer (-20C). Some tissues to save for toxicological studies are liver, kidney, fat and stomach contents, but if toxicity is suspected, a toxicologist should be consulted for proper tissue collection and preservation.  

Infectious disease studies: Tissues should be saved at -70C (organisms tend to survive better at this temperature).  

Biomaterial Banking:  Several sections (2-5 cm cubes) of heart, skeletal muscle, and liver should be collected and saved at –70C. These may be submitted to the Prosimian TAG Tissue Bank for long-term storage. Submit samples to St. Louis Zoo (address above) with complete animal identification – ARKS printout is preferred.


Weigh the major organs (especially heart, liver, kidney, brain). 

Instructions for specific tissues: 

3 longitudinal sections to include: left and right free walls such that atrium, ventricle and A-V valve are included in the section (include papillary muscle in this section); and a similarly oriented section of septum such that atrium, septal leaflet of right A-V valve and aortic outflow tract are included.  

Lymph nodes:  
If lymph nodes are grossly abnormal or if lymph node disease is suspected, lymph nodes should be labeled as to location (e.g., in bags, laundry tags or separate containers) since they all look the same under the microscope.  

Endocrine organs:  
Submit the entire organ from both left and right sides. Adrenal glands should be cut transversely to assess the ratio of cortex to medulla.

Gastrointestinal tract:  
Open along long axis. If intestine is abnormal or GI disease is suspected clinically, label each section as to location.  

Additional necropsy procedures for neonates:  
1. Fix umbilical stump and surrounding tissues.  
2. Examine fetus or neonate for malformations, incl. cleft palate and deformed limbs/spine. 3. Assess level of hydration and evidence of nursing  
4. Determine if breathing occurred (do lungs float in formalin?).  
5. Include placenta.  

Reproductive tracts of females have been requested by Dr. Linda Munson at the University of California. (916-754-7567;



Checklist of tissues to sample:

heart (left and right free walls and septum)  
lung (sections from several lobes, including a major bronchus)  
thyroid (leave intact)  
parathyroid (leave intact)  
lymph nodes (cervical, anterior mediastinal, bronchial, mesenteric, lumbar, prescapular - at least one internal and one external should be collected)  
spleen (2 cross sections including capsule)  
liver (3-5 sections from different areas - include capsule)  
pancreas (sections from 2 areas - can leave attached to duodenum)  
tongue (cross section)  
stomach (cardia, fundus, antrum)  
small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum)  
large intestine (cecum, colon)  
kidney (transverse section to include coner, medulla, papilla)  
urinary bladder  
uterus (body and horn)  
ovary (section of each)  
testis, epididymis (transverse section of each)  
prostate, accessory sex glands  
brain (At least 1/2 of the brain (right or left) should be submitted intact. In some cases of neurological disease it may be advisable to formalin fix the entire brain.)  
spinal cord (remove entire cord, if possible, and submit whole. Because this is a somewhat labor intensive procedure, this is probably only necessary for animals with neurological signs referable to the spinal cord.)  
eye (fix intact - do not puncture)  
skin (1-2 cm square section of ventral and dorsal skin)  
skeletal muscle (1x1x0.5 cm piece from thigh - longitudinal section in direction of muscle fibers)  
bone (submit 1/2 femur in longitudinal section (include growth plate). For large animals, submit costochondral junction of a rib (to include growth plate) and bone marrow from the proximal femur).  
bone marrow  



Species  Studbook No.: 
Institution:  Prosector: 
Birth Date/Age:  Sex:  Proven Breeder?:  Yes   No 
Date and time of death:  Contraceptive History: 
Body weight:  Date and time of necropsy: 
Parent or hand reared?: Enclosure ID (indoor/outdoor?):
Weather conditions of enclosure when found dead:

In addition to completing the checklist on the next page please include a detailed description of gross lesions and indicate if pictures were taken and of which organs.

Diet:(list ingredients, brand names):  

Clinical History (Presentation, circumstances of death, attach copy of lab results, use additional sheets if necessary):  

Gross Description of lesions: 
Tissue checklist.   

Organ Status Micro Cy -20/70 Organ Status Micro Cy -20/70
Skin,             Bone marrow            
Subcutis             Kidney            
Mammary gland             Ureters            
Umbilicus             Urinary bladder            
Body orifices             Urethra            
Thoracic cavity             Ovaries            
Abdom cavity             Uterus            
Heart/ sac             Vagina            
Aorta/ vessels             Vulva            
Nasal cavity             Testes            
Trachea/bronchi             Access. glands            
Lungs             Penis/prepuce            
Oral cavity/teeth             Muscles            
Esophagus             Bones/joints            
Stomach             Brain            
Small intestine             Leptomeninges            
Cecum             Peripheral nerve            
Colon             Spinal cord            
Liver             Thyroid            
Gallbladder             Parathyroid            
Pancreas             Pituitary            
Tonsil             Adrenal            
Spleen             Eyes/cornea/lens            
Thymus             Ears            
GALT*             Lymph Nodes            

Status - WNL = within normal limits, AB = abnormal, NE = not examined, NP = not present, NF = not found. Micro - AE=aerobic, AN=anaerobic, P=parasite, F=fungus Cy=cytology, -20,-70 = freezing temp

*GALT = gut-assoc lymphatic tissue


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