Serum fatty acids concentrations in free-ranging and captive giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis)


Schmidt D, Koutsos E, Ellersieck M, Griffin M. 2007. Serum fatty acids concentrations in free-ranging and captive giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis). In Ward A, Hunt A, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Seventh Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Knoxville, TN.


Serum concentrations of fatty acids in captive giraffes were compared to values obtained from free-ranging giraffes in an effort to identify potential nutritional differences in the captive population. Captive giraffes have a specific set of maladies, including peracute mortality, energy malnutrition, pancreatic disease, urolithiasis, hoof disease, and severe intestinal parasitism that may be nutritionally related. Serum samples from 20 captive giraffes at 10 zoological institutions in the United States were compared to previously collected samples from 24 free-ranging giraffes in South Africa. Differences in fatty acid concentrations between captive and free-ranging giraffes, males and females, and adults and sub-adults were analyzed using a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial and Fisher’s LSD for mean separation. Of the 22 quantified fatty acids, 13 (59%) were significantly different between captive and free-ranging giraffes. Only linoleic, arachidonic, and docosapentaenoic acids were found in higher concentrations in zoo giraffe; all other fatty acid differences were higher in free-ranging giraffes. All significantly different omega-3 fatty acids were 2 – 3x higher in free-ranging giraffes than captive giraffes. Docosahexaenoic acid was the only fatty acid found to be significantly higher in adults than that measured in sub-adult giraffes. Further investigation in captive giraffe diets is needed to address the differences seen in this study and the potentially related health problems.


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