Main Article Content

Elden Zoumin
Siti Sarayati Hj. Abdul Mawah
Lo Chor Wai (Dr.)
Farnidah Jasnie


Fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) analysis is a non-invasive method to monitor animals' welfare in captivity and wild environments. Glucocorticoid also known as cortisol is a hormone that indicates the level of stress in animals and humans. This paper reviews the use of FGM analysis on bears and the methodologies used to study this hormone in every species of bear. The review method used was descriptive review. The bears that were included in this review are the brown bear (Ursus arctos), Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), American black bear (Ursus americanus), Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Andean spectacled bear (Tremactos ornatus), and giant panda (Ailuropodia melanoleuca). Studies of FGM on polar bears showed that zoo-to-zoo transportation could cause an increase in FGM level during transportation and FGM is not suitable to be used to differentiate between pseudo-pregnancy and true pregnancy. In Malayan sun bear, FGM level is high in female bears that show agonistic behavior and is associated with low progesterone levels. In addition, studies on Malayan sun bear show that not only FGM can be analyzed from fecal samples, but also the reproductive hormones of estrogen and progesterone. In Asiatic black bears, FGM is higher in bears that live in a bile farm than forage outside the forest reserve. High parasite load in giant pandas is associated with a high level of FGM since parasite infection is considered a stressor that can elicit a stress response. Also both male and female panda have high FGM during the breeding season  to increase metabolism to generate energy required for reproductive activities. The Alopecia syndrome in Andean spectacled bear has no significant relation to FGM level. Brown bears with several types of food in their diet have lower FGM than those with only one type of food. There is no specific study of FGM that focused on sloth bear and American black bear, but there were several studies on glucocorticoid in black bears that are not extracted from fecal samples. FGM can be analyzed using both enzyme-immunoassay (EIA) and radioimmunoassay (RIA) but, EIA is preferable due to safety reasons.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Zoumin, E., Siti Sarayati Hj. Abdul Mawah, Lo Chor Wai (Dr.), & Farnidah Jasnie. (2023). STUDY OF FECAL GLUCOCORTICOID METABOLITE IN BEARS: A REVIEW. Malaysian Journal of Science, 42(1), 92–105.
Review Articles


Bryant, J. L., & Roth, T. L. (2018). Annual faecal glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations in pregnant and pseudopregnant polar bears ( Ursus maritimus ) in North American zoos. 6(1), 6–11.

Dalerum, F., Dehnhard, M., Freire, S., González, R. G., Marcos, J., Miranda, M., & Vázquez, V. M. (2020). Methodological Considerations for Using Fecal Glucocorticoid Metabolite Concentrations as an Indicator of Physiological Stress in the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 93(3), 227–234.

Deng, H., Liu, S., Jin, X., & Ge, X. (2014). Research on methods of preserving fecal steroid hormones in giant panda ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca ). North-West Journal of Zoology, 10(1), 210–216.

Frederick, C., Hunt E., K., Kyes, R., Collins, D., & K. Wasser, S. (2012). Reproductive timing and aseasonality in the sun bear ( Helarctos malayanus ). Journal of Mammalogy, 93(2), 522–531.

Frederick, C., Hunt, K., Kyes, R., Collins, D., Durrant, B., Ha, J., & Wasser, S. K. (2013). Social influences on the estrous cycle of the captive sun bear (Helarctos Malayanus). Zoo Biology, 32(6), 581–591.

Harlow, J., Beck, D. I., & Walters, L. M. (1990). Seasonal serum glucose , progesterone, and cortisol levels of black bears (Ursus americanus). Canadian Journal Fof Zoology, 68, 183–187.

Horn, R. C. Van, Thomas, G., Smith, M. S., Shanks, J. A., & Owen, M. A. (2019). The Andean bear alopecia syndrome may be caused by social housing. Zoo Biology, 38(5), 434–441.

Hunt, K. E., & Wasser, S. K. (2003). Effect of Long-Term Preservation Methods on Fecal Glucocorticoid Concentrations of Grizzly Bear and African Elephant Effect of Long-Term Preservation Methods on Fecal Glucocorticoid Concentrations of Grizzly Bear and African Elephant. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 76(6), 918–928.

James, H., & Serge Lariviere, S. (2019). Bear. Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

Keay, J. M., Singh, J., Gaunt, M. C., & Kaur, T. (2006). Fecal glucocorticoids and their metabolites as indicators of stress in various mammalian species: A literature review. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 37(3), 234–244.

Kersey, D. C., Wildt, D. E., Brown, J. L., Huang, Y., Snyder, R. J., & Monfort, S. L. (2010). Parallel and seasonal changes in gonadal and adrenal hormones in male giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Journal of Mammalogy, 91(6), 1496–1507.

Kersey, D. C., Wildt, D. E., Brown, J. L., Snyder, R. J., Huang, Y., & Monfort, S. L. (2011). Rising fecal glucocorticoid concentrations track reproductive activity in the female giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). General and Comparative Endocrinology, 173(2), 364–370.

Lafferty, D. J. R., Laudenslager, M. L., Mowat, G., & Heard, D. (2015). Sex , Diet, and the Social Environment: Factors Influencing Hair Cortisol Concentration in Free-Ranging Black Bears (Ursus americanus). PLoS ONE, 10(11), 1–14.

Leclerc, A., Bechstein, N., Lemberger, K., Drake, G. J., Magnone, W., Pin, D., Einspanier, A., Nevado, E. M., Barbon, A., & Nicolau, A. (2015). SPECTACLED BEAR (Tremarctos ornatus) ALOPECIA SYNDROME : AN UPDATE. 2015 Proceedings Annual Conference AAZV, October, 8–10.

Malcolm, K. D., Mcshea, W. J., Deelen, T. R. Van, Bacon, H. J., Liu, F., Putman, S., Zhu, X., & Brown, J. L. (2013). Analyses of fecal and hair glucocorticoids to evaluate short- and long-term stress and recovery of Asiatic black bears ( Ursus thibetanus ) removed from bile farms in China General and Comparative Endocrinology Analyses of fecal and hair glucocorticoids t. GENERAL AND COMPARATIVE ENDOCRINOLOGY, 185(2013), 97–106.

Malcolm, K. D., Mcshea, W. J., Garshelis, D. L., Luo, S., Deelen, T. R. Van, Liu, F., Li, S., Miao, L., & Wang, D. (2014). Increased stress in Asiatic black bears relates to food limitation , crop raiding , and foraging beyond nature reserve boundaries in China. Global Ecology and Conservation, 2, 267–276.

Malcolm, K. D., McShea, W. J., Van Deelen, T. R., Bacon, H. J., Liu, F., Putman, S., Zhu, X., & Brown, J. L. (2013). Analyses of fecal and hair glucocorticoids to evaluate short- and long-term stress and recovery of Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) removed from bile farms in China. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 185(February 2013), 97–106.

Ohe, C. G. Von Der, Wasser, S. K., Hunt, K. E., & Servheen, C. (2004). Factors Associated with Fecal Glucocorticoids in Alaskan Brown Bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) Factors Associated with Fecal Glucocorticoids in Alaskan Brown Bears ( Ursus arctos horribilis ). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 313–320.

Onuma, M., Suzuki, M., & Ohtaishi, N. (2001). Reproductive Pattern of the Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) in Sarawak, Malaysia. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, 63(3), 293–297.

Onuma, M., Suzuki, M., Uchida, E., Niiyama, M., & Ohtaishi, N. (2002). Annual Changes in Fecal Estradiol-17 β Concentrations of the Sun Bear ( Helarctos. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, 64(4), 309–313.

Palumbo, P. J., Wellik, D. L., Bagley, N. A., & Nelson, R. A. (1983). Insulin and Glucagon Responses in the Hibernating Black Bear. Bears: Their Biology and Management, 5, 291–296.

Schwarzenberger, F., Fredriksson, G., Schaller, K., & Kolter, L. (2004). Fecal steroid analysis for monitoring reproduction in the sun bear ( Helarctos malayanus ). Theriogenology, 62, 1677–1692.

Shepherdson, D., Lewis, K. D., Carlstead, K., Bauman, J., & Perrin, N. (2013). Individual and environmental factors associated with stereotypic behavior and fecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels in zoo housed polar bears. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 147, 268–277.

Sheriff, M. J., Dantzer, B., & Delehanty, B. (2011). Measuring stress in wildlife : Techniques for quantifying glucocorticoids Measuring stress in wildlife : techniques for quantifying glucocorticoids. Oecologia, 166, 869–887.

Stetz, J., Hunt, K., Kendall, K. C., & Wasser, S. K. (2013). Effects of Exposure , Diet , and Thermoregulation on Fecal Glucocorticoid Measures in Wild Bears. PLoS ONE, 8(2), 1–6.

Vimalraj, P. G., & Jayanthagaraj, M. G. (2012). Non-Invasive Monitoring of Fecal Cortisol Metabolites Level in Free-Ranging Asiatic Elephants In Response To Stress Due To Environmental Factors. Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Science, 6(13), 154–158.

Young, K. M., Walker, S. L., Lanthier, C., Waddell, W. T., Monfort, S. L., & Brown, J. L. (2004). Noninvasive monitoring of adrenocortical activity in carnivores by fecal glucocorticoid analyses. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 137(2), 148–165.

Yu, X. J., Hu, D. F., Jin, X. L., Ge, X. F., Yang, L. L., Zhao, P. P., & Zhang, Q. (2011). Non-invasive determination of fecal steroid hormones relating to conservation practice in giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Animal Biology, 61(3), 335–347.

Zhou, W., Gao, K., Ma, Y., Wang, L., Wang, M., Wei, F., & Nie, Y. (2020). Seasonal dynamics of parasitism and stress physiology in wild giant pandas. Conservation Physiology, 8(1), 1–12.