Mottishaw PD, Fick T, Vann Bonn W. 2011. Does B vitamin supplementation increase survival or weight gain stranded California sea lions. 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.
When pinnipeds enter a rehabilitation facility, they have often fasted for an unknown period of time and are nutritionally deficient. They often are then fed dead fish. Certain species of fish are deficient in vitamin B1, or thiamine, as they contain thiaminases, enzymes which break down this vitamin after the fish have died. Deficiencies in these vitamins can result in neurological deficits and death. Mild deficiencies result in weight loss, confusion and failure to thrive.
Young California sea lions were either given vitamin B supplementation or were not. Comparisons were made in survival, weight gain during rehabilitation, and duration of stay. Plasma was collected when possible, and laboratory results for plasma thiamine levels were compared.
Our objective was to provide evidence that B vitamin supplementation results in some
measurable benefit for sea lions in rehabilitation.