Rothman J. 2013. New insight into the nutritional ecology of wild gorillas: implications for captive management. In Ward A, Coslik A, Mahan K, Treiber K, Reppert A, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Tenth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Salt Lake City, UT.
Over the past decade there have been a number of studies on wild gorilla (Gorilla spp.) nutrition and we now have a more comprehensive database on the nutritional composition of wild gorilla foods including macronutrients, fatty acids, amino acids and minerals. I will review these findings and discuss a new approach to examining the diets and feeding patterns of gorillas and other primates called the geometric framework of nutrition. I will illustrate how this framework can be used to assess the nutritional priorities of gorillas, and to examine the differences in the nutritional properties of gorilla foods. Gorillas in the wild eat a diverse diet, but just consume a few of these foods on a regular basis. They eat high fiber fruits and leaves, with very low amounts of fat. Mountain gorillas that have a leafy diet prioritize the acquisition of energy and eat leaves that are high in protein. Their diets are about 42% neutral detergent fiber, 18% crude protein and 3% fat. Wild diets lack sodium and gorillas seek it, but other minerals are plentiful. I will discuss how we can use our knowledge from wild gorilla feeding and nutritional ecology to assess the new diet regimes being implemented in zoos and provide insights into the reduction of feeding related problems in captivity.20_Rothman.pdf     101 KB