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....

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Comparative Serum Analysis of Free-Ranging and Managed Green Moray Eels (Gymnothorax funebris) and Relationship to Diet Fed to Eels Under Human Care

Green moray eels (Gymnothorax funebris) under human care are reported to have elevated plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations with associated development of lipid keratopathy (Clode et al. 2012). Nevertheless, serum trace mineral and vitamin analyses have not been assessed, and the complete nutrient content (cholesterol, vitamins, and minerals) of managed eel diets has also not been reported (Clode et al....

Preliminary investigations into circulating vitamin E concentrations in captive okapi (Okapia johnstoni)

Normal circulating vitamin E levels have not been established for okapi (Okapi johnstoni) on a captive diet. Blood samples were obtained in 1996 by the Okapi SSP for free-ranging okapi in Zaire (Lukas, 1996). In 2009, vitamin E levels were acquired for animals housed at the Epulu Station in the Democratic Republic of the Congo fed an all leaf diet...

Managing diabetes through diet in black-footed tree rats (Mesembriomys gouldii) and greater stick-nest rats (Leporillus conditor)

Clinical and pathological signs consistent with diabetes mellitus (DM) were observed in a collection of Black Footed Tree Rats (BFTR; Mesembriomys gouldii) and Greater Stick-Nest Rats (GSNR; Leporillus conditor) housed at Taronga zoo. Review of the medical records of eighteen BFTR between 1991 and 2014, and thirty eight GSNR between 1995 and 2014, revealed a high frequency of animals with...

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....

Impact of dietary n-3 and n-6 PUFA on oxidative status and inflammation in yellow-rumped warblers

The intake and ratio of the essential fatty acid classes, n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), impact animal health. The dietary ratio of these fatty acids can be important as n-3 PUFA are considered anti-inflammatory, while n-6 PUFA are pro-inflammatory. Additionally, the increased number of double bonds in PUFA makes them more vulnerable to oxidative damage, potentially increasing the...

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...

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...

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%...

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...

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...

Dietary iron absoption ant the role of tannins in Eastern (Diceros bicornis michaeli) and Southern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor)

Three diet treatments were fed for at least 6 months at 6 institutions to a total of 11 black rhinoceros to assess the effect of tannins on iron status. Diet treatments were: 1.) a pellet/mixed hay diet, which reflected the diet historically fed; 2.) a pellet/mixed hay diet with quebracho added to the pellets as a source of iron binding...

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...

Quantifying the activity of captive Asian elephants through the use of a tri-axial accelerometer GPS, and behavioral observation

Quantifying activity levels and specific behaviors in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) has proven challenging and yet is important for managing these animals in zoos. Wild elephants spend a large portion of their day foraging; while in captivity, this activity is significantly decreased. To reduce the development of health risks such as obesity and the formation of undesirable behaviors, new...

Comparison between two methods for measuring pigmentation of frog’s skin

Tomato frogs belong to the family Mycrohylidae with three recognized species: D. antongilli, D. guineti and D. insularis. All are endemic to Madagascar, and only found in the northern part of the island. These reddish-colored frogs earned their name due their appearance, being similar to tomatoes, especially when they inflate. True colors, however, can vary a great deal, presenting with...

Body condition scoring in cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) advancements in methodology and visual tools for assessment

Body condition scoring (BCS) is the use of a standardized, non-invasive, cost-free tool for evaluating the degree of external adiposity of an individual (Bray, 2001). With proper validation, BCS can be applied to any species and utilizes a scale or spectrum of 1 to 5 or 1 to 9 to describe degree of fatness. BCS allows for identification of under-...

Validation of a radioimmunoassay for Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) insulin

Insulin is a principle mediator of metabolic and reproductive function and could provide an indicator for health status in elephants as in humans, equines and other species. This study was intended to validate a radioimmunoassay for insulin in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Four Asian elephant cows (age 11-39 y) at the Fort Worth Zoo were fed coastal hay only overnight,...