Potential of alternative protein sources for exotic carnivores: observations and discussion

Citation

Watts JC. 2011. Potential of alternative protein sources for exotic carnivores: observations and discussion. In Ward A, Coslik A, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Ninth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Kansas City, MO.

Abstract

Historically, the zoological community has depended on horsemeat and beef as the two options for feeding exotic carnivores. Horsemeat was generally preferred by veterinarians and nutritionists as a leaner, more wildgame-like product. Unfortunately, within the last 10 years all horsemeat packing plants in the US have closed due to public pressure opinion that horses are more pets than livestock and should not be slaughtered. This situation has severely impacted commissary supply operations by forcing zoos to either switch to beef, purchase horsemeat from outside the United States, and/or purchase non-USDA regulated product. This, in and of itself, has been a problem, yet now beef supplies are declining, prices are rising, and facilities with carnivores are backed into a smaller corner with less choice. The AZA lists four major suppliers of carnivore meat: 2 provide horsemeat, 1 provides beef, and one supplies both. There are other reputable companies that offer beef/horse and are not on this list; smaller, local companies can be difficult to find and this is where discussion amongst zoos can be extremely beneficial.

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