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...

Hand-rearing and growth of a grey seal (Halichoerus grypus)

Typical grey seal lactation lasts 15-21 days, followed by abrupt weaning by the dam and a several weeks long period of relatively significant weight loss while the pup learns to feed and fend for itself. It was with this natural history in mind that we formulated a grey seal hand-rearing protocol pending the birth of a female pup in early...

The growth responses of two polar bear (Ursus maritimus) cubs to regimented dietary energy

The growth of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) cubs depends to a large extent on litter size and the provision of maternal care, specifically, milk production and the sharing of prey (Derocher and Stirling, 1996, Robbins et al., 2012). Cubs in most subpopulations stay with their mothers for up to 2 ½ years and rely solely on maternal milk during the...

Evaluation of a commercial vitamin and mineral supplement in milk replacers on serum nutrients in pre-ruminants

Since opening in May 1972, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has hand-raised hundreds of ruminant neonates. In order to improve success rates and generate appropriate protocols with any hand-reared neonate species, it is important to document each animal’s daily status and changes implemented to husbandry practices with each experience. Milk formula composition and consumption, solid-food intake, body weights, and...

Effect of dietary soluble fiber on gut microbiota in the sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps): a pilot study

The sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) is an exudativore in nature, eating plant gums, saps, resins, manna, and nectars as well as insect-based honeydew and lerp, with proportions of various ingredients highly dependent on seasonality and locale (Smith, 1982; Howard, 1989). Despite a well-developed cecum that could, in theory, harbor microbial populations with fermentative capabilities (Hume, 1999), a majority of captive...

Birth weights and growth rates of giraffe and okapi at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There is a lack of information available regarding the average birth weights and growth rates of many exotic animal species. This information can prove useful when evaluating the health of new born animals in a zoological setting. Within 24 to 48 hours of birth, giraffe (Giraffa camelopardis) and okapi (Okapia johnstoni) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are weighed and health is...

Analysis of nutrients, moisture loss, and vitamin stability in primate browse harvested at the San Diego Zoo

The objective of this study was to obtain nutrient profiles along with insight on rates of moisture and vitamin loss in browse harvested at San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG). Ten species of browse commonly offered to colobines were manually separated into leaf and bark components for analysis at a commercial laboratory. Findings indicate that a variety of browse species and...

Nutrient composition of the milk of the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

Little information exists about milk composition in obligate insectivores or in members of the mammalian superorder Xenarthra. A total of 37 milk samples collected from 3 lactating giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) were assayed for proximate nutrient content at the Nutrition Laboratory of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute using standard methods developed at the Nutrition Laboratory. Water comprised 88.7 ± 2.1%...

A targeted metabolomics assay to measure purines in the diet of managed and free-ranging common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates)

Ammonium urate nephrolithiasis occurs in common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) managed under human care but not in free-ranging dolphins (Smith et al., 2013). In mammals, purine-rich diets, such as the piscivorous diet of dolphins, can predispose to urate urolith formation (Osborne et al., 1995). The total purine content of food is measured commercially by summing the concentrations of four purine...

A comparative nutrient analysis of fish species consumed by managed and free-ranging common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates) with respect to ammonium urate nephrolithiasis

Ammonium urate nephroliths develop in common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) managed under human care, but do not occur in free-ranging dolphins (Smith et al., 2013). In mammals, urate urolith development has been attributed partly to the effect of diet on urine saturation and pH. Free-ranging and collection dolphins consume diets that differ in fish species variety, location, and fresh versus...

Feeding strategies in wild carnivores: progress report of a model approach

Feeding strategies among wild carnivores are still partly unexplained. Carnivore mass is a determining factor in the choice for a specific range in prey size (Carbone et al., 1999). According to Carbone et al. (2007), two dietary groups can be distinguished: small carnivores hunting on small prey (< 20 kg) and large carnivores hunting on large prey (> 20 kg)....

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...

Non-healing subcutaneous hemorrhage in a colony of vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) due to suspected vitamin C deficiency

The Milwaukee County Zoo has housed vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) since 1973. The bats are fed defibrinated cow’s blood with a liquid pediatric multivitamin supplement. In November 2013, one bat developed a non-healing left wing hematoma. An August 2014 post-mortem examination revealed multifocal extensive necrohemorrhagic and suppurative ulcerative dermatitis with no underlying cause determined. From July to December 2014, five...

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...

Use of a novel iron chelator (HBED) in black rhinoceros

Black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis) are critically endangered and are compromised by iron overload under human care (Paglia and Tsu, 2012; Molenaar et al., 2008). With the goal of safely reducing iron absorption in the gastrointestinal tract of affected and susceptible individuals, we investigated oral administration of the iron chelator, N,N-bis(2-hydroxybenzyl)ethylenediamine-N,N–diacetic acid (HBED) to 2.1 black rhinoceros. We expected HBED administration...

Evaluation of diets offered to elephants in Brazilian zoos

In order to improve the quality of life for captive elephants maintained in Brazilian zoos, the Brazilian Society of Zoos and Aquariums (SZB) organized a workshop concerning management of elephants in zoos in November 2014. Evaluation of nutritional husbandry was identified as a priority. Thus, diets were assessed from information obtained for 4 African (Loxodonta africana) and 12 Asian (Elephas...

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)....

Associations between diet, gut microbial communities, and health in red-shanked doucs (Pygathrix nemaeus): a model for the subfamily colobinae

Red-shanked doucs (Pygathrix nemaeus) and other colobines possess specialized gastrointestinal systems similar to ruminants. They utilize both fore- and hindgut fermentation to meet their energetic demands. Maintenance of captive populations has been largely unsuccessful. Improving captive conditions is hindered by critical gaps in our understanding of their natural diet and enteric microbial adaptations that facilitate the digestive process. We used...

Nutrition therapy for human gastrointestinal disorders and application to captive non-human primates

Abnormal gastrointestinal function is considered to be a common problem among captive non-human primates. Certain nutrients and diet patterns are implicated in abnormal gastrointestinal function and disease. The human nutrition field uses medical nutrition therapies to prevent and/or manage a variety of gastrointestinal disorders. Some of these may be appropriate for application to non-human primates. Current evidence-based nutrition interventions for...

Apple leaves and bark as browse items for herbivorous monogastrics under human care

Many zoological institutions are faced with challenges when developing and providing a diet for their non-ruminant browsing herbivores. The most prominent issue remains providing readily available, safe and sufficient quantities of plant material. Zoos are often forced, usually by climate, to utilize seasonally available, local, appropriate and or novel plant species in order to decrease the effort and expense required...

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...

Does B vitamin supplementation increase survival or weight gain stranded California sea lions

When pinnipeds enter a rehabilitation facility, they have often fasted for an unknown period of time and are nutritionally deficient. They often are then fed dead fish. Certain species of fish are deficient in vitamin B1, or thiamine, as they contain thiaminases, enzymes which break down this vitamin after the fish have died. Deficiencies in these vitamins can result in...

Effect of lutein supplementation on blood carotenoids and vitamins in a variety of marine mammals

Lutein, an oxygenated carotenoid concentrated in the retina in a variety of species, may enhance ocular health (Mares-Perlman et al., 2002). Given the high incidence of ocular pathology in captive marine mammals (Dunn et al., 1996), it was hypothesized that a lutein supplement may protect against some of these conditions. This trial examined the response of different marine mammals to...