Diet Charts: The Keeper’s Tool and Aide

Citation

Wright JT. 1995. Diet charts: the keeper’s tool and aid. In Proceedings of the First Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Scarborough, OT.

Abstract

For most institutions, whether public or private, conservation of endangered species is a high priority. Conservationist will use a variety of tools available to aid them in meeting their goals. Healthy reproductive animals are vital to the management of a viable captive population. One important tool, integral to successful survivorship of animals in our care, is dietary monitoring. One of the tools in use at the Baltimore Zoo is diet charts. The animal managers have found these charts to be an invaluable aid in keeping track of the general condition of the collection. The method of maintaining the charts is quite simple and part of the keepers’ daily routine. The charts provide information about the animals’ diet, group interaction, and other basic information critical to animal caretakers. Food items are weighed before and after feedings, then recorded on the diet charts daily by the keepers. This information is compiled monthly and reviewed by the animal managers, which may influence dietary or managerial decisions for the following month. Diet charts allow for consistency among the keepers in diet preparation and a place to record leftover amounts. Keepers might also notice trends in diet consumption that may be brought to the attention of the curators. As people concerned about wildlife conservation, we strive to provide the captive population with the best management facilities and diets our resources allow. By having a simple means to monitor dietary consumption, diet charts provide documented data to aid in a keeper’s daily routine. With healthier collections, longevity is increased, as well as chances for reproductive success.

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