General procedures and guidelines for hand rearing felid neonates

There are many reasons to hand rear felid neonates in a zoological setting. The criteria for doing so should be set in advance of parturition and all preparations made for the process. The possibility of illness or common ailment should be anticipated and plans should be made for routine veterinary checks. Staff involvement, feeding schedules, formula, feeding supplies and methods...

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...

Associations of Zoos & Aquarium’s animal care manuals: What is the nutrition advisory group’s role?

The Species Survival Plan ® (SSP) or Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) is responsible for creating and updating information on their prospective species. It is important to assemble this information in a systematic and consistent manner. In 2005, the Association of Zoo & Aquariums (AZA) created standardized guidelines. Considering the exact nutrient requirements of many exotic animals held in captivity are...

Useful references in zoo and wildlife nutrition

Zoo and wildlife nutritionists apply their nutrition expertise daily to a variety of situations, ranging from the most applied to the most basic. These include commissary operation, inventory maintenance, staff direction, laboratory management, diet formulation and evaluation, consultations with other zoo personnel and other zoos, and budget supervision. Beyond this, they interact with professionals on topics outside of their profession,...

“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...

Polar bears: aspects of handrearing

Zoos faced with the issue of handrearing polar bear cubs have found success with various formulas. Despite many common ingredients in zoos’ polar bear milk replacers, adjustments were made to accommodate specific medical or nutritional needs of the cub(s), and consequently there were differences in solids/energy offered and weaning age. Cubs from three institutions (San Francisco, Brookfield, and San Diego...

Nutritional challenges associated with feeding a multispecies exhibit: a series of case studies

Feeding multi-species exhibits can be challenging in many ways. The first is ensuring that each species, as well as, each individual has access to a diet without excessive competition from another species. The second is ensuring that animals with different nutrient requirements are able to consume the appropriate diet. The third is to ensure that animals do not consume a...

A preliminary evaluation of a hand-rearing formula for southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) calves

Exotic neonates may be hand-raised in captivity for various reasons. Records and evaluations of these hand-rearing efforts, the protocols used to achieve typical species growth and behavior, and data on the composition of mother’s milk, are needed to increase the success of hand-rearing a number of exotic species, including the southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum). Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK)...

Exhibiting animals in large naturalistic exhibit: without prey or predator

Modern zoos are increasingly inclined to exhibit animals in more naturalistic surroundings, often in large mixed species exhibits, and the Biodôme de Montréal is no exception. The Biodôme is subdivided into four sections representing specific ecosystems. The First ecosystem, the tropical rainforest, represents Amazonia and all species of trees and animals are from South America. The Laurentian forest, the St....

USDA Animal Welfare Inspection Guide

The purpose of the Animal Welfare Inspection Guide is to provide an aid for APHIS Animal Care personnel when inspecting USDA licensed and registered facilities. The Inspection Guide is not a regulation and does not rise to the level of policy. It serves as a tool to improve the quality and uniformity of inspections, documentation, and enforcement of the Animal...

The USDA recently released their latest guidelines for monitoring animal welfare.

FOOD AND FEED SAFETY AND NEW REGULATIONS

Both federal and state agencies oversee the safety and efficacy of commercial livestock and poultry feed and pet food products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under authority provided by the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (Act) promulgates regulations designed to protect the health of humans and animals by requiring that animal feed and pet food be appropriately...

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...

Do more with less: the value of developing a collaborative approach to nutrition-based research

In the last decade, there has been a gradual awareness that basic research on nutritional physiology and digestive strategies is essential for improving the management and care of zoo animals. However, few small or medium-sized AZA zoological institutions have been able to commit the financial resources and meet the logistical needs to staff and conduct these types of critical studies....

FAUNA: DIET MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FOR HEALTHY ANIMALS

We all want to feed our animals well; within zoos and aquariums different stakeholders concentrate on different aspects of feeding. Some may be mostly concerned with the nutrient content, others with the way food is presented. The physical and behavioral health of animals may be a principal focus and sustainability, efficiency and costs are becoming increasingly significant drivers. Recording and...

BROWSE – HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? THE CHALLENGES OF ASSESSING BROWSE INTAKE

Browse is an important dietary component for many herbivore diets. Animals such as giraffe, black rhino, kudu, bongo, gerenuk, porcupines and many others consume a significant amount of browse as their natural diet. Providing sufficient quantities and appropriate browse species is one of the most challenging aspects of feeding animal collections in a zoological setting. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we...

A GUIDE TO DECIDING ON A CENTRALIZED VS DECENTRALIZED COMMISSARY APPROACH IN A ZOO SETTING

Likely since the inception of zoological collections, there has been a debate over whether it is most efficient and effective to have a centralized or a decentralized commissary operation. Proponents of both types of operations know the bonuses and shortfalls of their own approach, as well as their perceptions of each for the “path not chosen.” Both approaches have been...

COMMISSARY DESIGN: A TALE OF TWO COMMISSARIES

“It [is] the best of times, it [is] the worst of times,” to paraphrase Charles Dickens. Designing a commissary is one of the most important and long lasting effects a commissary manager and/or nutritionist can have on a nutrition program. While specific details will vary by institution and by program, the basic considerations are similar. Experiences during planning and construction...

A FIELD GUIDE TO AZA ACCREDITATION FROM A NUTRITION PERSPECTIVE

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) maintains a rigorous accreditation process in order to ensure that AZA-member zoos meet the highest standards of animal care, welfare and management; veterinary care; business management; education; and conservation responsibility. This process is managed by the Accreditation Commission, and is implemented at individual facilities via the inspection team (a team of three –...

Microbiological and temperature evaluation as part of a comprehensive raw meat quality control program

Raw meat and raw meat-based diets are potentially hazardous food items used to maintain zoo carnivores. It is important to monitor handling temperature of meat throughout the preparation process to insure it is maintained below the appropriate threshold temperature (4°C or 40°F). Handling raw meat below this temperature threshold minimizes growth of harmful microorganisms. Three frozen raw meat samples were...

Browse information at your fingertips – the foragers source

The use of browse to manage dietary requirements of many animal species is becoming more important within zoological institutions. Browse can include shrubs, trees, woody vines and stems, including various plant parts like berries and flowers. Browse is important as a dietary constituent for many captive wild animals, but critical for others. It has also become essential for enrichment purposes...

Foundation and function of EAZA Nutrition Group (ENG), providing specialist support for European conservation breeding programmes

Specialist subject advisors (e.g. veterinary, scientific) are increasingly being added to steering committees for zoo-based conservation breeding programmes worldwide; several advisors in nutrition have already been informally appointed within European programmes. Following the lead of AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, the newly inaugurated EAZA Nutrition Group (ENG) seeks to facilitate improved communication and coordination among nutritionists and those requiring nutrition information,...

Development of a standardized body condition score for cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)

Standardized body condition indices (BCI) or scores (BCS) provide practical management tools for assessment of diet utilization and general quantification of fat stores that an animal carries. They have been widely developed and applied with livestock, domestic cats and dogs, and more recently, to various wildlife species, primarily hoofstock. Comparisons between BCS developed for free-ranging versus captive wildlife species have...

Highlighting conservation nutrition: the Saint Louis Zoo’s Orthwein Animal Nutrition Center

The Saint Louis Zoo’s high standard for animal care is evidenced by the opening of its Orthwein Animal Nutrition Center (OANC) in 2007, a world class facility that highlights critical functions of the Nutrition Department in meeting the nutritional needs of wildlife. Not only will the collection animals be served, but also the science and research programs supporting the institution’s...

Commissary renovation and centralization at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Renovation of Smithsonian National Zoological Park (NZP) commissary facilities, evaluation and revision of procedures, and the addition of staff and volunteers were implemented as part of a programmatic shift from decentralized to centralized commissary operation and an overall renewal of the clinical nutrition program. Existing facilities were renovated and new equipment was obtained using hazard analysis and critical control point...

Communicating captive wild animal nutrition

Zoo or captive wild animal nutrition is globally evolving into a respected science. It is still in its infancy and there are many unknowns particularly with today’s economic environment. However, there is one certainty about this emerging arena, and that is, only the people caring for these animals and their dedication, will improve the field of zoo nutrition. Often “people...