Gastric ulcers are common in domestic horses and foals, affecting at least 90% of unmedicated racehorses in active training. Despite these high prevalences in domestic horses, literature about this condition in wild equids is almost nonexistent. The presence of gastric ulcers was evaluated at necropsy in six species of wild equids that died at the Réserve Africane de Sigean, a safari park in the south of France from 2010 to 2016. Among the 55 individuals that died during that period, a description of the gastric mucosa was available in 82% (45/55) of cases. Considering the cases for which a description of the gastric mucosa was available, the prevalence of gastric ulcers was 64% (29/45). The highest prevalences were noted in Grant's zebra (Equus quagga boehmi) and Hartmann's mountain zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae) at 83% and 100%, respectively. In contrast to what is reported in domestic foals, gastric ulcerations were only diagnosed in one foal (out of 11 foals necropsied). The higher prevalence was noted in young individuals (3-36 mo old) at 93% (14/15); the lesions observed consisted mainly of single to multiple, superficial lesions, of which, only the mucosa was missing; these superficial lesions are often considered not clinically significant. The prevalence was lower for adults (74%; 14/19), but lesions were deeper or with a hyperemic or inflammatory appearance. All the lesions observed were located in the gastric, nonglandular, stratified squamous mucosa, along the margo plicatus. No statistical correlation could be found between the development of gastric ulcers and an ongoing, chronic pathologic process or a digestive tract pathology. The detection of gastric ulcers was, therefore, significantly greater in wild equids isolated in smaller enclosures. Nevertheless, additional larger-scale research is needed to point out predisposing factors in equids under human care.
Keywords: Captivity; EGUS; Equidae; gastric ulcer; prevalence.