Guidelines for the Humane and Ethical Acquisition and Management of Vertebrate Feeder Animals (Excluding Fish)

It is vitally important that omnivorous and carnivorous species in the care of zoos and aquariums receive the appropriate foods needed to meet their nutritional and behavioral requirements. Oftentimes this entails using ‘feeder animals’ as part of their diet.  It is important that zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) make certain that feeder animals...

Evaluation of browse composition: vitamin E

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant, and deficiency is known to impact the reproduction, growth, and immunity in many species. Dietary browse can be an important source of vitamin E for animals housed in zoological institutions; however the contribution of these items to total dietary vitamin E likely varies by browse species and across time. Our objective was to evaluate...

Designing an online hand-rearing resource center: first steps

In 2014, Safari West and the Safari West Wildlife Foundation (Santa Rosa, CA) hosted “The Inaugural AZVT (Association of Zoo Veterinary Technians) Focus Group: The Art and Science of Hand-Rearing”, a symposium that was attended by 80 zoo professionals from around the globe. With the initial focus on carnivores and hoofstock, twenty international speakers provided their insights into both historical...

Common aquatic ingredient nutrient analyses: balancing practical feeding with long term aquatic health

Optimizing dietary formulations for aquatic species is one of the most challenging aspects of nutrition for exotics. Whether designing diets for elasmobranches, fish in a multi-species aquarium, or marine mammals, understanding the nutrients provided in the food is essential. Ideally, designing aquatic diets utilizes both known body weights of the target species, and analyzed nutrient contents of diet items. Repercussions...

Commercial aquatic diets and water quality

Water quality is an important limitation of diet choice and feed amounts in ornamental aquaria. Advanced life support system technology (a.k.a. water treatment) allow aquaria to maintain proper water quality; however, addition of diet items to the water is regarded as a key component impacting water quality maintenance via the load presented to life support systems. Herein, we evaluated nutrient...

Calibration development for rapid assessment of fish species for dolphins in human care using near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS)

Near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) is a fast, accurate, and cost effective method for analyzing organic compounds. Dolphins as a species are highly sensitive to changes in the energy and nutrient contents of their diets. We analyzed monthly samples (n=148) of capelin, herring, and squid for dry matter, crude protein and crude fat. The dried and ground samples were returned...

Food safety training for keepers in decentralized zoo kitchens

A food safety program was developed for training keepers in a decentralized zoo kitchen system. Instruction covered food safety standards of the state of Illinois; reviewed information regarding USDA and AZA food safety standards; and provided keepers with action-based steps they could take to prevent food safety concerns. In addition, lead keepers had separate sessions to ensure food safety standards...

Palatability of bucker ensiled willow as a winter diet item for browsing herbivores

Browsing herbivores in zoological institutions may be severely limited in the amount of natural browse offered, especially in winter months, with implications for gastrointestinal and overall animal health. A large quantity of freshly cut willow browse (~6100 kg) was ensiled in June 2010 after chipping the product into a lined 15’ x 6’ x 6’ container with molasses (~4% of...

An evaluation of browse silage production as a feed component for zoo herbivores

Browse is an essential part of many zoo animals’ diet. Our prevailing temperate climate in Southern Ontario makes it impossible to provide enough fresh browse year round. Therefore browse is preserved by ensiling. In this research we compared harvest time, nutrient content and time of preservation. Apple (Malus domestica) was used as the sole browse plant species.Leaves, stems and immature...

Examination of palatability of extruded primate diet using three flavors

Commercial diets are often essential parts of captive primate nutrition. However, consumption of dry extruded products can be difficult to encourage. Food and flavor preferences have been observed in captive primates and may be affected by palatability. This study examines the palatability of a commercial extruded primate diet when compared to 3 diets containing new flavors. Mazuri® Primate Browse Biscuit...

Prevalence of antibiotic resistance in zoo animal foods

Antibiotic resistant bacteria have been isolated from various human foods. These findings suggest that the food chain may play a role in disseminating antibiotic resistance to consumers. We will discuss the principals of antibiotic resistance and our recent study investigating the presence, identification, functionality, and transferability of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes isolated from zoo animal foods. A handout with an extended...

Vitamin analysis reliability: A case study testing supplements and supplemented meat products for vitamin levels at three commercial laboratories in the United States

Regularly scheduled laboratory analysis of feed samples in zoological institutions is a necessary practice for maintenance of the highest levels of quality control. As such, factors such as cost, stability of product, and available storage environment may influence sampling protocols at each institution. The choice of laboratory used for analysis generally considers location and shipping concerns, availability of testing, methodology...

Evaluating the stability of nutrients of cut eucalyptus sideroxylon browse for koalas

The objective of this study was to evaluate the stability of leaf nutrient contents in Eucalyptus sideroxylon browse branches over the course of one week. Twelve branches were cut and transported to the koala barn within 1 h. These branches were kept in a walk-in cooler and three branches were sampled 1.5, 45, 93, and 141 h post-harvest. The branches...

The development and evaluation of a gut-loading diet for feeder crickets formulated to provide a balanced nutrient package for insectivorous amphibians and reptiles

Obligate insectivores in their natural habitats consume a wide variety of insect species. In captivity, the diversity of prey items is limited to very few species which has led to nutritional deficiencies. Zoological institutions, therefore, have a responsibility to administer feeding programs which include supplementation techniques that compensate for known shortcomings in the nutrient composition of their feeder insects. Gut-loading...

Potential of alternative protein sources for exotic carnivores: observations and discussion

Historically, the zoological community has depended on horsemeat and beef as the two options for feeding exotic carnivores. Horsemeat was generally preferred by veterinarians and nutritionists as a leaner, more wildgame-like product. Unfortunately, within the last 10 years all horsemeat packing plants in the US have closed due to public pressure opinion that horses are more pets than livestock and...

Advances in feline nutrition 1: commercially available beef and horsemeat-based raw meat diets for captive exotic felids

The predominant diet types fed to captive exotic felids are raw meat supplemented with vitamins and minerals, raw meat-based commercial diets, and whole prey. There is a paucity of information on the nutritive value of many of the dietary options. In the US, commercial rawmeat based diets are the main diet type fed (Pearson, et al., 2005). Reported values for...

Evaluating a field nitrate test for sudangrass hay to prevent nitrate poisoning

The objective of this study was to compare a field nitrate test using two different test strips to the hay nitrate concentrations determined at a commercial laboratory. Twelve samples of sudangrass hay collected in 2006 through 2008 were used to compare the nitrate concentration determined at a commercial laboratory using the RQflex Reflectometer method to those determined by a field...

Creating ice block cakes for enrichment

Animal enrichment has become an essential part of caring for captive animals in a zoological setting. There are various types of enrichment, which include social groupings, exhibit design, sensory stimulation, and different feeding strategies. One of the most common types of enrichment is feeding strategies. Ice blocks filled with various vegetables and fruits can be used to enrich animals. Ice...

The milk repository at Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park

Lactation, the exocrine secretion of milk from mammary glands for the nourishment of young, is a defining characteristic of mammals. All female mammals produce milk, and milk is the first food of all neonatal mammals. The diversity of the mammalian radiation is reflected in the diversity of lactation strategies that have evolved. This in turn is reflected in differences in...

The effects of fertilization on nutrient content of pasture, soil and water in 3 savannahs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Historically, grass nutrient content at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (DAKL) has been observed to have high levels of potassium (> 4 %), a possible concerning factor in the development of hypomagnesemia in grazing hoofstock. There had been no fertilization of the savannahs at DAKL for 2 years prior to the current study, and potassium levels had reduced approximately by half...

Evaluation of season of harvest and water addition on forage quality of willow (Salix caroliniana) processed for silage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The objective of this study was to evaluate two seasons of harvest and water addition at the time of ensiling on silage quality of Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana). If successful, willow silage could be used as a supplement during the winter months for some browse-consuming animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The experiment consisted of two harvest seasons and two moisture...

Similarity of rumen degradable protein (RDP) degradation rates comparing in vitro and in situ techniques

Protein provided to ruminants can be divided into rumen degradable protein (RDP) and rumen undegradable protein (RUP). The RDP provides amino acids and ammonia-nitrogen which are vital to the growth of rumen microbes. An imbalance of the RDP supply and microbial RDP requirement can alter ruminal fermentation. The imbalance could lead to reproductive inefficiencies, inadequate growth, and ruminal acidosis. To...

“We’re gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse” or; contract purchasing

Purchasing contracts are an integral part of a Nutrition program’s procurement arsenal. Versatile and adaptive, they are one way to secure a consistent source and pricing of a product. However they can also be limiting and result in delivery of an inferior, albeit more economical, product. We will examine the advantages and disadvantages of contract purchasing and development of specification...

Nutritional and bacteriologic evaluation as part of a raw meat quality control program

Six lots of raw horsemeat diet (Zoo Carnivore Diet, Dallas Crown, Inc., Kaufman, TX 75142 USA) were analyzed in triplicate for selected nutritional and bacteriologic components. Aliquots of frozen meat were submitted to a commercial laboratory (Dairy One, Inc., Ithaca, NY 14850 USA) to determine proximate composition, mineral levels, and gross energy. Additional aliquots were thawed at 10°C for 44...

Bamboo as a year-round forage source

Bamboo is a rapidly renewable, nutritionally stable, and in most cases, evergreen forage. Although only rivercane (Arundinaria gigantica) is native to North America, bamboo enthusiasts have imported hundreds of varieties adapted to a wide range of climates and growing zones. We have conducted macronutrient analysis on eleven temperate species collected across all seasons and have analyzed for dry matter, ash,...

UNDERSTANDING RAW MEAT DIET FORMULATIONS

Concerns over raw meat diet formulations for zoological carnivores have included microbial contamination and food safety, protein source, and variations in nutrient composition and product consistency. The Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act along with the 2012 AVMA Policy on Raw Pet Foods have heightened awareness of food safety concerns related to raw meat diet formulations. This awareness...

INGREDIENT VARIABILITY, STABILITY, AND PROCESSING EFFECTS

Often the assumption when constructing diets for pets is that nutrient requirements are a fixed number found in a table. Likewise, we often hear of nutrient values for ingredients and assume that they are a constant. Common sense tells us both assumptions are false. For ingredients these values are subject to wide ranges in variation from supplier to supplier, from...

NUTRIENT STABILITY OVER TIME IN MANUFACTURED FEEDS

Understanding nutrient stability over time is of critical importance when determining the shelf life of animal feed. Trials examining nutrient stability are difficult to manage because of the long duration of trials, particularly if multiple environmental conditions are examined. It is well known that a variety of factors including temperature, humidity, light, and interactions between nutrients (e.g., oxidation of fat...

Nutrient and fermentation characteristics of Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana) silage

The objective of this study was to evaluate the nutrient and fermentation characteristics of Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana) silage. Twelve laboratory scale silos (10.2 cm diameter x 45.7 cm long) were packed by hand with chopped willow (1.41 kg as-is, range 1.28 – 1.65 ± 0.18 SD) and opened on 0, 21, 42, and 84-d post-ensiling (three replicates per period)....