Cheetah nutrition: recent advances and revised SSP recommendations

The SSP Cheetah Animal Care Manual was recently revised and updated, and is due for release by the end of 2015. As part of this process the Nutrition chapter was re-written in order to incorporate recent research findings and provide a more comprehensive overview of our current understanding. A review of the in situ diet of the free-ranging cheetahs demonstrated...

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-...

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...

Observations of growth of South African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) fed different carnivore diets

Significant changes have occurred in the availability of raw ingredients used in fresh meat-based carnivore diets, and as a result, the finished diets. Two litters (n = 9) of maternally reared South African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) included in this retrospective study of cub growth were offered comparable carnivore diets that differed primarily in the species (horse [Diet A, Litter...

Do maintenance energy requirements of felids reflect their feeding strategies?

Maintenance energy (ME)requirements have been determined for the domestic cat, Felis silvestris catus, but not for larger felids. To determine if the domestic cat represents an appropriate model for studies with larger species, we measured digestive efficiency and digestible energy intakes in cats of different body sizes (body mass range: 15-195 kg)which included clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa (n = 9),...

Zoo guidelines for keeping large felids in captivity

Within the family Felidae, determination of minimum husbandry needs of large cats is variable because of differences in size, morphology, and behavior. For purposes of this discussion, a large felid is identified as any species of cat belonging to the genus Panthera, including: lion, P. leo; tiger, P. tigris; jaguar, P. onca; leopard, P. pardus; and snow leopard, Uncia uncia;...

Nutrition Chapter in the Cheetah Species Survival Plan – Husbandry Manual

Unique nutritional requirements of felids must be recognized in feeding captive cheetahs, including the need for high protein and fat diets, inclusion of dietary vitamin A (as retinol), arachidonic acid, taurine, and niacin. General reviews of felid nutrition (Scott, 1968; MacDonald et al., 1984) provide indirect evidence that the domestic cat remains the best model for establishing dietary composition parameters...