Palatability assessment of a gelatin based diet through the use of first bite and total volume measurements in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops Truncatus)

It is well established that a variety of organic and inorganic compounds, including soluble sugars, polysaccharides, amino acids and potential toxins are all subject to nutritional chemoreception, and as consequence may induce behavior in biologic organisms (Lindemann, 2001). These behaviors may be quite different even among closely related species and can be specific to individual nutritional requirements. The exact stimulus...

Hand raising manatee (Trichechus manatus)

Manatee (Trichechus manatus) calves are abandoned each year in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico around Florida and some of those animals are brought to SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment in Orlando (SWF) for rehabilitation and future release back into the wild. While in most cases we are unsure why the calf was separated from the mom, it is likely...

Hemochromatosis in bottlenose dolphins: clinical significance, risk factors, and treatment suggest non-hereditary etiology

Botttlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) can have hemochromatosis (iron overload), evidenced by excessive iron deposition in the liver, transferrin saturation >80%, and rising high serum iron levels (>300 ug/dl) responsive to phlebotomy (Johnson et al., 2009). Dolphins with hemochromatosis have chronic, phasic elevations in aminotransferases (Venn-Watson et al., 2008). Compared to age and sex-matched healthy controls, these dolphins are also more...

Aquatic animal supplementation practices – survey results and recommendations

Aquatic animals have been maintained under human care for centuries. Limitations in the variety of foods available to feed to these animals as well as the use of frozen/thawed diets make supplementation of some nutrients necessary. Limited research has been done on what vitamins or minerals are necessary and in what amounts. There are no standardized requirements or recommended daily...

Managing zoo diet information: introducing the next generation of software

We all want to feed our animals well. Yet 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. Obviously...

Nutritional pathology 101: common post mortem lesions of nutritional deficiencies and excess across taxa

The wide variety of lifestyle, digestive tract, and physiologic adaptations that exist across taxa result in an expansive array of nutritional needs and sensitivities, which can result in inadvertent essential nutrient excesses or deficiencies that result in disease (Barboza et al., 2009; Dierenfeld, 1997). While the incidence of nutrition related disease has seen a steady decline in veterinary pathology 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...

Potential of alternative protein sources for exotic carnivores: observations and discussion

Historically, the zoological community has depended on horsemeat and beef as the two options for feeding exotic carnivores. Horsemeat was generally preferred by veterinarians and nutritionists as a leaner, more wildgame-like product. Unfortunately, within the last 10 years all horsemeat packing plants in the US have closed due to public pressure opinion that horses are more pets than livestock and...

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...

Nutritional management of healthy senior wild felines: using the domestic cat as a model

Nutritional adjustments that might promote health and slow progression or onset of disease (e.g. chronic renal disease, CRD) and improve quality of life in senior wild felines are being presently tested at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK). The idea is based on studies done with domestic cats aimed at controlling the symptoms of CRD (Carey, 1998). We expect to continue long...

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...

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...

Advances in feline nutrition 1: commercially available beef and horsemeat-based raw meat diets for captive exotic felids

The predominant diet types fed to captive exotic felids are raw meat supplemented with vitamins and minerals, raw meat-based commercial diets, and whole prey. There is a paucity of information on the nutritive value of many of the dietary options. In the US, commercial rawmeat based diets are the main diet type fed (Pearson, et al., 2005). Reported values for...