Nutritional analysis of mixed produce for exotic species using near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS)

Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) has long been established as a fast, easy, and cost effective technology for measuring basic organic components utilized in diet formulations. In zoological facilities, accurate timely quality control of diet ingredients, including highly variable items and those with a short shelf life, such as produce, can be difficult. We utilized traditional wet chemistry data from...

Interpreting vitamins and mineral concentrations in serum of exotic species: lab values are not infallible

The prospect of trust and laboratory analysis is often so frightening a concept, scientists in the zoo field, including nutritionists and veterinarians, do not discuss it as more than a side note. Often we trust that specialists in biochemistry and new analysis technologies ensure proper verification of lab methodology, and would inform the consumer of any difficulties or questionable data....

Feeding frenzy: turning the science of zoo nutrition into a game for kids

In 2012, Busch Gardens opened the Animal Care Center to the public to share general information about the techniques and science involved in preventative and emergency care of the 12,000 animal residents of the zoo as well as local injured wildlife. Zoo educators teamed up with the veterinary and nutrition staff to develop demonstrations and interpretive elements that would share...

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...

Nutrient Composition of Locally Obtained Native Fishes (St. Catherines Island, GA, USA) Compared with Fish Commonly Purchased for North American Zoo Feeding Programs

Nine species of local fishes, obtained as part of a larger population study, were chemically analyzed to determine nutrient composition prior to use in feeding programs at the Wildlife Survival Center, St. Catherines Island, Georgia, USA. The nutrient composition of locally obtainable fishes was compared to that of fishes commonly used in North American zoo feeding programs. The 9 local...

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...

Metabolomics has great potential for clinical and nutritional care and research with exotic animals

This essay explores the potential of metabolomics for exotic animal research in a zoological setting. Metabolomics is a suite of analytical tools aimed at gaining a holistic understanding of animal metabolism without prior knowledge of the compounds to be measured. These metabolic fingerprints can be used to define normal metabolism for an unstudied species, to characterize the metabolic deviation of...

FEED-RELATED HYPERVITAMINOSIS D IN A CAPTIVE FLOCK OF BUDGERIGARS (MELOPSITTACUS UNDULATAS): MORBIDITY, MORTALITIES AND PATHOLOGIC LESIONS

In the spring of 2012, the Blank Park Zoo began suffering mortalities in a flock of 229 captive Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) housed in an interactive public-feeding aviary. Clinical signs included weakness, posterior paresis, inability to fly, central nervous signs or acute death. Gross and microscopic lesions were not apparent in acutely affected deceased birds. Many birds had evidence of trauma,...