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 –...

Polar Bear Nutrition Guidelines

Polar bears, the most carnivorous of the Ursidae family, prey primarily on ringed seals (Best, 1985; Derocher, et. al, 2000; Stirling and Archibald, 1977).  When brought into captivity, maintaining their nutritional and mental health can be challenging.  Due to the lack of indepth species-specific research, captive polar bear diets must be based on a combination of known requirements of related...

Investigation of a new diet formula for captive short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

Short beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) are myrmecophages, ant and termite specialists, and replicating their diet in captivity is problematic. Captive diets often incorporate raw meat, eggs and cat food mixed together with water and vitamin and mineral supplements. These diets have presented a number of health problems, such as cystitis, gut impaction, obesity and diarrhea. This study aimed to assess...

Evaluating the nutrition of a flock of non-breeding greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber roseus) at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A flock of 150 greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber roseus) at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park were moved to a new enclosure in 2010 to provide them a larger exhibit and to promote the breeding of lesser flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor) that shared the previous exhibit. Since the greater flamingos moved, they have not laid eggs through June 2015. A nutrition...

A different angle on geometrical analysis of diets: developing a tool for using geometry to communicate nutrition to laypeople

Geometric analysis provides an intuitive and powerful tool to examine the diet and feeding behavior of animals. Because of its visual nature, it may also be a powerful tool to assist in communications with laypeople, such as clients or zoo staff members, who are often intimidated by a more numerical analysis. A new tool, a ternary graph using color for...

A review of the nutrient content of commercial feeder insects and strategies for increasing their nutrient content

Insects are an important source of nutrients for a wide variety of captive insectivores including many reptiles and amphibians. Nutrient analysis of many of the more common commercially available feeder insects has now been published. These data are reviewed and discussed in light of the fact that unlike many free ranging animals, insectivores in captivity are fed a limited number...

Utilization of pork and pork by-products for nutritional management of captive exotic felids

Currently beef and horse comprise the majority of raw meat diet formulations marketed by US companies manufacturing and supplying carnivore diets to zoological institutions. Pork-based diets have traditionally not been fed to managed exotic carnivores, primarily because of microbial and pathogenic concerns, and nutrient digestibility of pork has not been evaluated in captive exotic felids. Additionally, the pork industry currently...

Cheetah nutrition: recent advances and revised SSP recommendations

The SSP Cheetah Animal Care Manual was recently revised and updated, and is due for release by the end of 2015. As part of this process the Nutrition chapter was re-written in order to incorporate recent research findings and provide a more comprehensive overview of our current understanding. A review of the in situ diet of the free-ranging cheetahs demonstrated...

Body weight changes of leopard tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) fed two isoenergetic diets

Growth patterns of captive leopard tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) have been compared with those of free-ranging individuals (Hailey and Coulson, 1999; Rall, 1988; Ritz et al., 2010). Although useful comparative references for captive animal management, the lack of quantified food intake and opportunistic morphometric sampling associated with wild specimens limits their application. Average daily gain (ADG) of 17 female leopard tortoises...

Vitamin E supplementation in African elephants

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...

An analysis of vitamin C supplementation in the drinking water for giant elephant shrews (Rhynchocyon petersi) at the Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo acquired 2.2 Giant Elephant Shrews, Rhynchocyon petersi, in July 1999 for the purpose of exhibition and reproduction. At that time, limited anecdotal dietary and activity budget data were available for this species. The animals appeared to be clinically healthy and in ‘ideal’ nutritional condition upon arrival. Intensive observational studies of time budgets and food and water intake...

Nutritionally complete food-free diets for primates: potential benefits and concerns

Many zoos and institutions offer nutritionally complete foods (NCF) in the diets of captive primates (Oftedal and Allen, 1996). These foods, which often take the form of extruded biscuits, canned diets or gels, provide a source of important nutrients like protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals, thereby helping to meet minimum estimated nutrient requirements (Oftedal and Allen, 1996; NRC, 2003)....

Stronger than yesterday: new nutrient recommendations for lorisine primates

Asia’s slow lorises (Nycticebus spp.) are heavily impacted by the illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. Confiscated lorises by Customs officials find themselves in rescue centers with approximately 50% of them having had their lower teeth removed by the poachers and must remain in the rescue centre indefinitely, if they survive. Reintroductions do occur but success is very low. Despite...

Fruit-free diets for primates

Paignton Zoo has been working towards fruit-free diets for primates since about 2003, when severe dental health issues in our colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza) triggered us to investigate sugar levels in their diet. In common with most of our primates at the time their diet consisted of a commercial primate pellet and included a high proportion of fresh and dried...

Nutrient Composition of Whole Vertebrate Prey (Excluding Fish) Fed in Zoos

Although nutritionally balanced formulations, largely based upon nutrient requirements of domestic cats, are commercially available for many zoo carnivores, some choose to use whole prey as a part or all of certain captive feeding programs. Whole prey are similar in physical form to the natural diet of some carnivores, and are commonly presumed to meet nutrient requirements as long as...