Vitamin D Status in Wild Toque Macaques (Macaca sinica) in Sri Lanka

The vitamin D receptor is found on most cells, including active immune cells, implying that vitamin D has important biological functions beyond calcium metabolism and bone health. Although captive primates should be given a dietary source of vitamin D, under free-living conditions vitamin D is not a required nutrient, but rather is produced in skin when exposed to UV-B light....

Sequencing the Black Rhino L-Ferritin Gene: How Accurate is our Testing?

Black rhinoceros under human care must be monitored for their iron status due to detrimental but poorly epidemiologically documented consequences of iron overload disorder. The recommended approach to assessing iron status in black rhinoceros examines transferrin saturation and ferritin, a species-specific protein, known to be an iron carrier as well as an acute- phase reactant.  Kansas State University Diagnostic Veterinary...

Continuing Assessment of Vitamin Analysis Reliability Across Laboratories: Examples in White and Black Rhino Species

As part of an ongoing assessment of vitamin E supplementation in white and black rhino species (2017 – 2018) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the first 6 months of assessment utilized 2 laboratories (A and B) for vitamin E analysis in split serum samples, and 2 laboratories (C and D) for vitamin E analysis in split fecal samples.  In both species...

Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) Diet Management: Seasonal Diets to Attain Healthy Weight

Grizzly bears (Ursus Arctos) are specially adapted to survive the changing seasons of northern latitudes through changes in metabolism and behavior: In the zoo environment, these adaptations make weight management a challenge (Watts, 2009). Wild bears pack on the pounds during warm months to ensure they can survive the winter’s harsh weather and scarcity of food – losing as much...

From Farm to Fang: Sourcing Carcasses for Carnivores

Incorporating large whole prey items into the diet of carnivores (big cats, condors, and more) can provide complete nutrition – from the meat, bones, organs and even fur, as a source of fiber – with the beneficial effects of stimulating activity and promoting species-specific, naturalistic feeding behaviors. San Diego Zoo Global is evaluating potential addition of large whole prey items...

Doing More with Less at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Improving Commissary Efficiency

Maximizing the efficiency of food preparation is the goal of every commissary operation.  At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, a number of process improvements have allowed us to take on additional projects and reduce our labor costs.  These include: a thorough re-design of our diet cards to minimize eye movement, maximize clarity, and reduce mistakes; pre-bagging dry goods to minimize traffic...

Analysis of Fatty Acid Profiles in Eastern Box (Terrapene carolina carolina) and Common Snapping (Chelydra serpentine) Turtles for Wild and In-Human Care Environments

Diets of wild animals are often more diverse and offer higher concentrations of nutrients than those of animals’ in-human care (zoos, rehabilitation facilities, etc.). Managing wild animals within human care facilities is often necessary, and we hypothesized that chelonian dietary differences within circulating fatty acid profiles would be reflected in wild vs human care data. The current study examined the...

Gut-Loading Diet Evaluation for Crickets (Acheta domesticus), Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor), and Superworms (Zophobas morio) for the Purposes of Optimizing Institutional Protocols

For captive insectivorous birds, reptiles, and amphibians, gut-loading has become an essential part of a balanced diet when feeding commercial feeder insects. The captive bred crickets, mealworms, and superworms being fed have inadequate Ca and vitamin A to meet the nutritional needs of these animals. The trials conducted for this study were to determine which gut-loading diet would be the...

Handrearing a Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius): A Rare Opportunity for Collaboration

On January 24, 2017, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden had a premature hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious) calf (Fiona) born to a first-time mom (Bibi) on land weighing 29.6 lbs.  After one and a half hours, Fiona was pulled due to no attempts to stand or nurse coupled with lack of maternal care; Fiona was cold to touch and needed supportive care. ...

Analyses of Diet and Serum Mineral Concentrations in African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) Housed at the NC Zoo

Elephants in human care (Loxodonta africana) are often over conditioned. Consequently, many zoos aim for reduced caloric intake and increased activity levels. Diets containing higher dietary browse and forage percentages with lower inclusion of pelleted components may stimulate increased foraging behavior. However, feeding increased browse with unknown nutrient profiles while decreasing pelleted nutritionally complete feed could prove problematic with respect...

Development and Application of a New Insect-Based Complete Diet for Insectivorous Mammals

Commercial complete diet options for insectivores are very limited and most are an extruded diet. The extrusion process requires a high level of carbohydrates, which is not appropriate for animals that consume insects. Insects do not contain high levels of carbohydrates, they are mainly fat and protein. Chitin is an important component of insects, found in the exoskeleton, it acts...

Effect of Different Protein Levels on the Performance and Apparent Protein Digestibility of Orphan Calves of Amazonian Manatees (Trichechus inunguis)

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of four dietary crude protein (CP) levels, provided by mixing two commercial milk replacers, on the performance and protein apparent digestibility of captive orphan calves of Amazonian manatees (Trichechus inunguis). Four individuals (two males and two females), with an average weight of 28.95 kg and 8.75 months-old in average were...

Impact of Removing Dietary Supplementation on Serum Nutrient Concentrations in a Managed Population of Southern Stingray (Dasyatis americana)

The Walt Disney Company manages two distinct populations of female southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana) at The Seas, Orlando, FL, and at Castaway Cay, Bahamas. Stingrays are housed in artificial (Orlando) or natural (Bahamas) seawater.  We previously reported significant differences between these two populations based on eight years of routinely collected serum data.1 The aim of this study was to assess...

Browse Collection and Preservation for Winter in a Northern Zoo

Zoo nutritionists agree that herbivores need browse to maintain and improve their dental, gastrointestinal, and psychological health, and ideally browse should be offered throughout the year. Unfortunately, zoos in temperate climates such as Chicago’s have difficulty providing browse for their animals in the colder months, and many zoos have limited available space for browse storage.  The Chicago Zoological Society –...

Gastritis in the Short-Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus): Parallels with Ruminal Acidosis in Herbivores and Implications for the Understanding of Echidna Digestive Physiology

Short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) are endemic to Australia and south-eastern New Guinea (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea). In mainland Australia they feed primarily on termites. Echidnas have a single chambered stomach which is entirely lined with squamous (non-glandular) cells, and is histologically analogous to the rumen. The short-beaked echidna stomach has historically been understood to function as a grinding or...

Technology Use for Physiological State: Use of NIRS to Predict Pregnancy Status in Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus)

The eastern bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus), a browsing African antelope species, is critically endangered. Diets under human care can be challenging for this species because of limited browse availability, and maintaining optimal health for reproduction is critical. Monitoring reproductive status in the bongo using fecal hormone analysis has not yet been explored; thus, we developed the methods for and validated a...

Sequencing the Black Rhino L-Ferritin Gene: How Accurate is Our Testing?

Black rhinoceros under human care must be monitored for their iron status due to detrimental but poorly epidemiologically documented consequences of iron overload disorder. The recommended approach to assessing iron status in black rhinoceros examines transferrin saturation and ferritin, a species-specific protein, known to be an iron carrier as well as an acute- phase reactant.  Kansas State University Diagnostic Veterinary...

Short-Beaked Echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus): An Insectivorous Herbivore

Short-beaked echidnas are considered myrmecophages, carnivores that specialize in eating termites and ants. Dogs and cats have been used as the carnivore models to develop their artificial diets. Echidnas appear to do well on artificial diets, often living 50+ years in captivity. A recent review of necropsies of echidnas at Taronga Zoo revealed pathology in captive echidnas that may have...

Proximate Composition of Milk of Captive Nine-Banded Armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus)

Armadillo dams have a potentially unique challenge in that their pups rapidly grow a bony carapace, suggesting a high requirement for the transfer of calcium and phosphorus from dam to pups via milk. We examined milk samples from 10 armadillo dams, samples collected at days 1 – 6, 14 – 15, 33 – 38, and 49 – 51 after birth....

Case Study: Iron in Black Rhinoceros Diets: The Impact of Pasture

Over the course of a year, serum ferritin and iron in a black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) increased over time, despite a prescribed diet low in iron. To identify additional sources of iron intake, vegetation in the enclosure was analyzed for iron content. Iron concentrations in enclosure samples averaged 736 ppm, well in excess of maximum recommended total-diet concentrations of 300...

Implications of Managing a Mother-Reared Orangutan Indoors During Early Infancy

In September, healthy male orangutan was born and raised by the dam at the National Zoological Park. However, due to enclosure limitations and timing of the year, the pair would have no access to the outdoor enclosure until May. Knowing that milk was not likely to contain biologically significant levels of vitamin D, and access to UV lighting was not...

Carotenoid Gut-Loading of Crickets and Mealworms

The lack of diversity of invertebrate prey items available to feed captive animals limits available nutrients, requiring manipulation of the diet fed to these prey items prior to offering to other animals. Of late, much of the gut-loading research and recommendations focused on correcting the Ca:P imbalance inherent to the insects available through commercial production. More recently, attention has shifted...

Regurgitation and Reingestion in Captive Great Apes

Two male western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and one female northwest Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium have exhibited recurring regurgitation and reingestion (R&R) behavior. No negative health effects have been noted related to this behavior in the two gorillas; however, the orangutan has had multiple cavities that are suspected to be related...

Baseline Intake Study for Four Species of Primates in Captivity: Callithrix pygmaea, Nycticebus pygmaeus, Propithecus coquereli and Callithrix geoffroyi

Little information is known in regards to the natural or seasonal diets of primates. In captivity, nutrition can be an important part of preventative medicine and lead to an improved quality of life for primates. To better understand the nutrient intake of four primate species in the collection at the Philadelphia Zoo, we conducted an intake study over a minimum...

Case Study: Winos for Rhinos: Feeding Grape Pomace to Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) as a Method for Mitigating Iron Storage Disease

Iron storage disease has been detrimental to the captive browsing rhinoceros population. One of the proposed methods for reducing available iron in the gut of these animals is to increase iron chelators into the captive diet that are normally present in the wild diet. This study used the wine making by-product grape pomace, which is naturally high in tannins, as...

Practical Investigation of Cricket Dust Supplements Commonly Used to Enhance Diets Provided to Insectivore Species under Human Care

Amphibians and reptiles commonly managed under human care are commonly fed farmed feeder crickets (Acheta domesticus) that are deficient in calcium. Calcium deficiency can lead to the development of nutritional metabolic bone disease in animals consuming the crickets; therefore, feeder crickets are commonly supplemented with calcium by either dusting the crickets’ exoskeleton or by providing crickets with a calcium enriched...

Analysis of Fecal Glucocorticoid Concentration in African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) Elephants in Relation to Management and Nutritional Factors

Identifying relationships between management and nutrition factors related to the physiological needs of elephants under human care is vital for improving husbandry and welfare standards. This study consisted of 130 African (Loxodonta africana) and 104 Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants housed in 65 separate facilities throughout North America. Fecal samples were obtained every other week for 12 months and analyzed for...

Macronutrient Selection in Mammalian Insectivores at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

This study determined macronutrient target of several mammalian insectivore species including 3-banded armadillo, aardvark, tamandua (lesser anteater), and greater anteater. These insectivores are often maintained on a commercial insectivore diet, which may or may not be appropriate for every species in this diverse and polyphyletic group. Animals were fed three experimental diets that varied in their proportions of calories from...

The Influence of Giraffe Behavior on Parasite Load: Impact of Husbandry Modifications at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Haemonchus contortus is a gastrointestinal parasite that lives in the abomasal mucosa of ruminants. Similar to cattle, giraffe housed in warm climates are prone to parasitism by stronglyes such as Haemonchus contortus. At Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida a behavioral study and retrospective parasite survey was conducted to determine if a correlation exists between giraffe behavior, feeding methods, and parasite...

The Mob – Under Investigation

‘Brewer’, a 4 year old male red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) under human care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, presented on December 10, 2016 with signs of colic, penile prolapse, and dribbling urine. Diagnostic imaging, including radiographs and computed tomography (CT) with contrast, revealed urethral obstruction with a radiopaque stone and additional uroliths in the left ureter and right renal pelvis. The...