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,...

Milk composition of the white rhinoceros (Cerathotherium simum) through the first year of lactation

Lactation is a fundamental adaptation of mammals with milk being the first food for all mammals and the diversity of mammals is reflected in the diversity of lactation strategies and in the composition of milks from different species (Hayssen 1992). Although all milks have the same basic nutrients in common, the proportion of fat, sugar, protein and minerals varies widely...

Intake apparent digestibility and digesta passage in leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis) fed a complete, extruded feed

The influence of feeding juvenile female leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis, n=18) a commercially available, complete, extruded feed on two commonly used feeding schedules was evaluated. When fed seven (compared to three) days per week, dry matter and digestible energy intakes were greater (P<0.05). Tortoises gained more body weight, kilogram (BWkg), but not when adjusted per initial BWkg, grew more in...

Growth curves and their implications in hand-rearing monk parrots (Myiopsitta monachus)

Monk parrots (Myiopsitta monachus) were hand-reared over two chick seasons spanning from 2010-2011. Information on the growth curve of chicks hand-raised in 2010 was used to develop a feeding protocol for the 2011 season. This protocol was focused to address the problem areas of delayed growth and then excessive growth experienced by the baby parrots hand-reared in 2010. The 2011...

Energy requirements of captive non-human primates

Energy is a fundamental need of all living things. In the wild, satisfying energy requirements may be the most important aspect of foraging ecology and feeding decisions. In captivity, satisfying an animal’s energy requirement is usually not difficult. The concern is more over balancing energy intake with that of other necessary nutrients. The energy density of manufactured foods is normally...

Energetics and food needs of free-ranging wild mammals, birds, and reptiles

The minimum metabolic rates (“basal” for endotherms and “standard” for ectotherms) of birds, mammals and reptiles are determined mainly by body size (mass), but that explanation may not work for field metabolic rates (FMR, or total daily energy requirement), which include additional energetic costs of activity, temperature regulation, foraging and food digestion, growth and reproduction, and social interactions, along with...

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...

Advances in feline nutrition 2: evaluations of protein and fiber sources for raw meat based diets in captive exotic felids

Little nutritional or metabolic information has been collected from captive exotic felids fed raw diets. In depth data on nutrient composition (e.g., fatty acid and amino acid composition) are sparse, and may impact diet formulation. Additionally, although several studies have examined total tract nutrient digestibility in captive exotic felid, (Clauss, et al., 2010; Vester, et al., 2010a) most have focused on horsemeat and beef-based...

Evaluation of type I and II collagen biomarkers for the detection of joint pathology in elephants

The first objective of this trial was to evaluate whether biomarkers for type I and type II collagen were detectable in elephant serum samples. Two commercially available enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent (ELISA) assays for the detection of the crosslinking telopeptides of type I collagen (CTX-I) and type II collagen (CTX-II) were validated for use with elephant sera. The second objective was to...

Comparative crop milk composition in grantivorous and frugivorous Columbidae

Crop milk, a glandular secretion produced by doves, pigeons, and some species of penguins and flamingoes, was collected from five different species of dove squabs at the Memphis Zoo between day 0 and 14 post-hatching. These species (Ptilinopus jambu, Ptilinopus magnificus, Gallicolumba luzonica, Gallicolumba rufigula, and Streptopelia decaocto), range from primarily frugivorous to primarily granivorous representatives of Columbidae. The samples...

Differences in gut microflora between captive and wild birds: Are we getting the captive balance right?

The microbiota of the vertebrate gastrointestinal tract consists of a diverse collection of microbial species. In the past, identification of these species has involved cultivation-based techniques. However, due to the dependence upon bacteria-specific media during cultivation, up to 80% of species may not have been identified using these techniques. To overcome this bias, a DNA-based technique of identifying microbial communities...

Dietary taurine supplementation and cardiac function in the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla): preliminary findings

Taurine is not considered an essential amino acid in most mammals as it can be synthesized from cysteine. Cats are an exception, lacking an enzyme necessary for this conversion and a lack of dietary taurine has been linked to central retinal degeneration and dilated cardiomyopathy. This form of feline cardiomyopathy is reversible with a dietary taurine supplement. More recently, a...

Normal urinary mineral excretion levels in African elephants (Loxodonta africana)

Metabolic bone disease has occurred in several incidences of elephant neonates hand-reared on milk replacement formula. Monitoring for metabolic bone disease historically has been done through serum calcium and phosphorus concentrations. Serum concentrations are tightly regulated and changes in concentration are typically not evident until skeletal changes have already occurred. Urinary calcium and phosphorus excretion levels may provide earlier evidence...