Indy Zoo: Nutrition Technician
San Francisco Zoo seeks Dietician in the Nutrition Center
Denver Zoo: Nutritionist Job Opportunity
Fecal Condition Scoring Resource Center
Guidelines for the Humane and Ethical Acquisition and Management of Vertebrate Feeder Animals (Excluding Fish)
Body Condition Scoring Resource Center
Zoo Nutrition Myth: A fruit is a fruit

Selection of proper feeds to assist in the dental management of carnivores

Proper dental care of carnivores in a zoological setting is of utmost concern among zoo professionals. Dental health is based on nutrition, environment, and overall animal health. This paper deals with the nutritional aspect of carnivore health. Zoo carnivores are able to survive on a variety of diets in captivity, but in order to assure proper dental health, feeds which...

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...

Modifying avian feeding strategies to provide foraging opportunity, allow for contrafreeloading and improve the health of collection birds

The Philadelphia Zoological Gardens opened its gates to the public in 1874. At that time, zoo animals rarely survived more than several years in their captive environments. Little was known about the natural diet and behaviors of these wild animals, and keepers typically provided their charges with a variety of inappropriate food items. Nutrition programs for zoo animals simply did...

Predicting nutrient values of elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) using near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

From May to December each year, the African elephants (Loxodonta africana africana) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom receive elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) as a significant portion of their diet. Near infra-red reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) is used to quickly predict the nutrient quality of the forage. Samples of elephant grass have been collected since 2003 and used to develop calibration equations. As...

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...

Herbivore carbohydrate nutrient analysis: the next generation

The proximate analysis system attempted to separate dietary carbohydrates into fiber and non-fiber portions. Under this system, any matter unaccounted for after subtraction of ash, crude protein, ether extract, and crude fiber from total dry matter was assumed to be non-fiber carbohydrates. Due to loss of variable amounts of fiber (cellulose and hemicellulose) and lignin during analysis, the proximate analysis...

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)...

Selecting Appropriate Markers for Digestibility Studies

Markers provide a method for indirect quantitation of digestive parameters. Gastrointestinal physiology and kinetics show a tremendous variation among species that is undoubtedly a reflection of evolution and dietary adaptation. Therefore, markers used in nutrition research must be appropriately selected for each species and each circumstance. Markers serve to facilitate quantification of passage rate and digesta fill as well as...

Nutrition of the Tamandua: I. Nutrient Composition of Termites (Nasutitermes spp.) and Stomach Contents from Wild Tamanduas (Tamandua tetradactyla)

Arboreal termites (Nasutitermes spp.) and stomach contents from tamanduas (Tamandua tetradactyla) were collected in central Venezuela during the mid part of the dry-season (March) of 1993 and 1994. Nutritional analyses were performed on each caste (workers, soldiers, alates), on mixed caste samples, and on stomach contents from live and road-kill tamanduas. The chemical analyses, expressed on a dry matter (DM)...

Ideal protein and zoo carnivores: further considerations for optimizing diets

Carnivorous zoo species are often fed “natural product” diets, i.e. raw meat-based meals for large felids, whole vertebrate prey, entire fish for aquatic or otherwise piscivorous species, and/or a variety of invertebrates consumed by insectivores. In general, these types of diets contain relative excess protein compared to nutritional requirements established for domestic cats and dogs, (NRC, 2006) or production species...

Implementing “green business” practices at the Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo has a long history of community involvement and paving the way for environmentally friendly practices in the Santa Barbara area. The Zoo initiated the first community recycling program more than 20 years ago. In 2007 The Zoo created an in house peer-committee “Sustainable Operations Committee (Green Team)” to review and establish responsible environmentally responsible practices. The...

The effect of sample handling and preparation on the iron binding polyphenolic content of browse

The objective of this study was to determine feasible handling methods for accurate analysis of iron binding polyphenolics. Seven methods were tested with different combinations of both onsite handling and laboratory preparation. In these methods, on-site collection included freezing the samples with liquid nitrogen or dry ice or collecting the samples fresh and returning them to the lab. Once in...

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...

Palatability of bucker ensiled willow as a winter diet item for browsing herbivores

Browsing herbivores in zoological institutions may be severely limited in the amount of natural browse offered, especially in winter months, with implications for gastrointestinal and overall animal health. A large quantity of freshly cut willow browse (~6100 kg) was ensiled in June 2010 after chipping the product into a lined 15’ x 6’ x 6’ container with molasses (~4% of...

Influence of fiber source on apparent digestibility, rate passage and fecal consistency in small felids fed a beef-based carnivore diet

In a crossover design, four adult animals, a male and female Amur leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis euptilura) and a male and female Turkmenistan caracal (Caracal caracal michaelis) were fed three fresh-frozen beef based diets containing different sources of fiber; beet pulp (BP), fructooligosaccharides/cellulose blend (FOS), and wood cellulose (Solka Floe®) (WC). Assessment included food intake, fecal consistency, animal body weight,...

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...

CASE STUDY: RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WEIGHT GAIN AND OFFSPRING SEX IN AFRICAN BUSH ELEPHANTS (LOXODONTA AFRICANA AFRICANA) AT THE SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK

Facing a male biased offspring sex ratio (7:4) in the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana africana) population at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (SP), the overall weight and weight gain of the breeding females was analyzed and the weight gain prior to calf conception was determined. The breeding females arrived at the SP heavier than similarly aged Zambian female...

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...

Milk composition and lactation strategies across mammalian taxa: implications for hand-rearing neonates

The two major features of mammalian reproduction are viviparity and lactation (milk production); of these, only lactation is both unique to mammals and occurs in all living species of mammals. Milk is the complex lacteal secretion of the mammary gland responsible for the provision of nutrients and energy to the growing neonate. Once adopted during the course of mammalian evolution,...

Food safety training for keepers in decentralized zoo kitchens

A food safety program was developed for training keepers in a decentralized zoo kitchen system. Instruction covered food safety standards of the state of Illinois; reviewed information regarding USDA and AZA food safety standards; and provided keepers with action-based steps they could take to prevent food safety concerns. In addition, lead keepers had separate sessions to ensure food safety standards...

Does blood sample handling and processing affect levels of vitamin A, E, and D?

Proper handling of blood samples is critical for the most accurate results. Knowledge of which factors affect blood samples leads to a practical and efficient system of handling these samples. This study evaluated the effect of light, temperature, or type of blood collection tube on 25(OH) vitamin D, retinol, and alpha-tocopherol in lion blood samples. Blood samples were collected from...

The effect of length of cold storage on secondary plant compounds in browse for captive black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)

The endangered black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) suffers from a high rate of mortality in captivity due to conditions such as hemosiderosis and hemolytic anemia. Supplementation of the diet with native browse species rich in tannins and other iron-binding polyphenolics has been proposed as a dietary strategy for reducing iron absorption and accumulation in this population. This study examined the effect...

Penguin diet and nutrition

Meeting the nutritional needs of penguins is essential if they are to survive and reproduce in captivity. Developing appropriate dietary guidelines involves using information 1) from feeding ecology data, 2) from published nutrient requirement data 3) on food availability to zoos and 4) on food preference. It is also essential to store and process food items correctly and provision the...

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....

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...

Association of enterolith formation relative to water source pH consumed by wild equids under captive conditions

Intestinal disorders associated with enteroliths in domestic and wild equids have perpetuated folklore feeding practices in the western U.S. Enteroliths are stones formed in the large intestine, consisting primarily of magnesium ammonium phosphate [Mg(NH4)(PO4) – 6H20]. The frequency of enteroliths reported in clinical cases and necropsy reports among captive equids at the Zoological Society of San Diego appears to be...

A contribution to the trace element nutrition of captive black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis)

Due to the potential involvement of trace mineral imbalances in health problems observed in captive rhinoceroses, there has been recent interest in trace mineral provision by and absorption from captive diets. In one investigation, forage of free-ranging black rhinoceroses contained, on average, 6.5 (range: 3.0-12.2) mg copper (Cu)/kg dry matter (DM), 113 (29-215) mg iron (Fe)/kg DM, 89 (11-269) mg...

Tools and techniques for successfully grinding fish for tube feed formulas

Grinding fish in a blender is very complex because the fish often need to be processed to some degree and there are many choices of blenders. Suggested blenders to use include Waring blenders of various sizes, homogenizers, or smaller, but more affordable, Magic BulletÒ or NutriBulletÒ. Using a meat grinder, chopping, filleting, skinning, and successive blending are all methods of...

Evaluating a Submersible Diet for Ducks and Other Species

The use of an alginate-calcium complex to formulate a durable submersible diet was evaluated in a feeding trial with growing ducklings. Growth, feed intake (FI), gain:feed ratio (GF), dry matter digestibility, metabolizable energy (ME), nitrogen-corrected ME and excreta moisture did not differ between birds fed a commercial 22% crude protein duck starter diet and those fed the same diet incorporating...