Vitamin E supplementation in African elephants


Kerr K, Sullivan K, Livingston S, Staples C, Valdes EV. 2015. Vitamin E supplementation in African elephants. In Bissell H, Brooks M Eds. Proceedings of the Eleventh Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Portland, OR.


Vitamin E, an essential vitamin, has antioxidant properties that are important for maintaining optimal health. In the 1990’s, comparisons of zoo-housed and wild elephant species revealed concentrations of blood a-tocopherol (vitamin E) in zoo-housed elephants of approximately half that seen in their wild conspecifics (0.4 vs. 0.8 ug/ml; Dierenfeld and Traber, 1992). Addition of dietary vitamin E supplement for the adult African elephants housed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK) was initiated in 2003 (2 to 6 IU/kg; water soluble a-tocopherol). We utilized longitudinal (1999 to 2014) serum vitamin E paired with age data (0 to 3.36 ug vitamin E/ml; 1.8 to 37.7 y old) from 18 elephants (n = 12 female; n = 6 males) housed at DAK to evaluate changes in serum vitamin E concentrations with age (elephants with no dietary supplementation), and the impacts of dietary vitamin E supplementation on serum values.

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