A zoo-wide evaluation into the current feeder insect supplementation program at the Brookfield Zoo


McClements RD, Lintzenich BA, Boardman J. 2003. A zoo-wide evaluation into the current feeder insect supplementation program at the Brookfield Zoo. In Ward A, Brooks M, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Minneapolis, MN.


Commercially raised insects are an important food source for captive animals. For those animals that are purely insectivorous, the nutrient concentrations of the food source are vitally important for the health and welfare of the animal, particularly the Ca to P ratio. In the summer of 2002, a zoo-wide evaluation of the current methods of insect supplementation was conducted at the Brookfield Zoo. The data were collected to determine whether individual animal holding facilities, using insects as a source of food, were achieving the desired mineral concentrations and Ca-to-P ratio. Crickets (Acheta domestica) and mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) of various sizes were delivered to the animal holding facility on day one of the data collection period. For three days, all feeder insects were placed in containers containing Marion™ insect meal and a water source, following the current insect supplementation protocol, then 100 grams of each feeder insect was collected. Additionally, a further 100 grams of feeder insect was collected if a secondary supplementation procedure occurred e.g. dusted with one of four dusting agents. Insect samples were analyzed for a variety of nutrients and minerals. Other data collected included building/container temperatures, handling procedures and watering schedules. Nutrient composition of the insects varied substantially across locations. Although there is a standard zoowide handling protocol, individual animal holding facilities have different interpretations and techniques, which may have led to variability in the results. To determine the significance of these findings additional data collections should be undertaken.

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