This chapter includes a lab manual that was developed for a Healthcare and Welfare  Workshop for elephant veterinarians given in Myanmar in 2018, organized by Elephant Care  Asia (an initiative or elephant Care International -



Erythrocytes in elephant whole blood EDTA samples can best be counted on an automated blood cell analyzer. 

Such an analyzer automatically measures the hematocrit. After centrifugation of the blood sample, a plasma evaluation should always be performed.

The morphology of the erythocytes should be examined microscopically in a (preferably fresh) blood smear, stained with Wright-Giemsa.

If no automated cell counter is available, manual erythrocyte count is a second option.

Total white Blood count (WBC):

Automated analyzers have limited value in elephant hematology. However, they can be used to measure the total amount of white blood cell. Automated cell counters come in several forms. Those used for other mammalians can only be used for total WBC in elephants. 

Manual WBC count can be done using a Hemocytometer Counting Chamber.


Differential WBC count:

Automated analyzers cannot be used to differentiate the white blood cells. This should ALWAYS be done by manual counting the different cell types on blood smears, stained with Wright-Giemsa. See also the Manual Differential WBC Count.


Estimating the platelet count is best done by calculating the average of platelets counts in 10 fields x 15,000, which gives the Estimated platelet count/µL.

See also: Manual platelet count (Cornell University).

Normal values:

The table below shows the normal hematology values for Asian and African elephants (Wiedner, E. 2015).


K.L. Perryn et al. 2020. Biological variation of hematology and biochemistry parameters for Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), and applicability of population-derived reference intervals. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 51(3): 643–651

E. Wiedner. 2015. Proboscidea. In: Fowler's Zoo and Wild animal Medicine 8.