Macronutrient composition of milk from three cercopithecoidea species: olive baboons (Papio anubis), rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), and pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina)

The olive baboon (Papio anubis), also called the Anubis baboon, is a member of the family Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys). The species is the most widely ranging of all baboons

Citation

Glick VJ and Power ML. 2021. Macronutrient composition of milk from three cercopithecoidea species: olive baboons (Papio anubis), rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), and pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina). In Brooks M, Koutsos E, and Henry B Eds. Proceedings of the Fourteenth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Foundation and AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Virtual.

Abstract

Milk composition is critical to proper growth and development of mammalian infants as well as the reproductive success of the mother. The relative proportions of milk macronutrients can vary drastically across different species. The objectives of this study were to 1) characterize the macronutrient composition of the milk from olive baboons (Papio anubis), rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), and pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) and 2) assess the similarity between the milks of these three cercopithecids. A single milk sample was obtained from 8 olive baboons between 47 and 129 days of lactation and 6 rhesus macaques between 15 and 92 days of lactation, living at the same institution under identical management conditions. Two milk samples each one month apart were obtained from 5 pig-tailed macaques (at 10 weeks and at 14 weeks of lactation) living at a separate institution. Baboon milk on average contained 86.0±0.6% water, 4.7±0.5% fat, 1.6±0.04% protein, 7.3±0.07% sugar, and 0.165±0.007% ash. Rhesus macaque milk on average was 86.1±0.3% water, 4.1±0.4% fat, 1.69±0.05% protein, 7.71±0.08% sugar, 0.19±0.01% ash. Finally, pig-tailed macaque milk was 82.8±0.6% water, 7.3±0.5% fat, 1.8±0.08% protein, 7.6±0.1% sugar, and 0.217±0.01% ash. These milks are similarly high sugar, moderate to high fat, and low protein with moderate energy density. This is consistent with their common lactation strategy characterized by frequent, on-demand nursing and relatively slow life history compared to non-primate mammal taxa. The strong similarity in the milks of these three monkey species suggests that other cercopithecid species living under human management might produce similar milk.

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