Vitamin E supplementation in African elephants

Vitamin E, an essential vitamin, has antioxidant properties that are important for maintaining optimal health. In the 1990’s, comparisons of zoo-housed and wild elephant species revealed concentrations of blood a-tocopherol (vitamin E) in zoo-housed elephants of approximately half that seen in their wild conspecifics (0.4 vs. 0.8 ug/ml; Dierenfeld and Traber, 1992). Addition of dietary vitamin E supplement for the...

Evaluation of diets offered to elephants in Brazilian zoos

In order to improve the quality of life for captive elephants maintained in Brazilian zoos, the Brazilian Society of Zoos and Aquariums (SZB) organized a workshop concerning management of elephants in zoos in November 2014. Evaluation of nutritional husbandry was identified as a priority. Thus, diets were assessed from information obtained for 4 African (Loxodonta africana) and 12 Asian (Elephas...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

Study of calcium metabolism in captive elephants by means of feeding trail

Hypocalcemia in elephants is a concern that needs attention. Cases of calcium-responsive dystocia have been reported anecdotally and the number of bone fractures in hospitalized working elephants in Thailand is relatively high. A feeding trial in 4 Asian elephants at the Rotterdam zoo showed that an increase in the calcium concentration of the roughage resulted in a significant rise in...

BODY CONDITION SCORING INDEX FOR FEMALE AFRICAN ELEPHANTS (LOXODONTA AFRICANA) VALIDATED WITH ULTRASOUND MEASUREMENTS OF SUBCUTANEOUS FAT

A major problem of zoo African elephants is ovarian acyclicity, which preliminary studies suggest may be related to obesity. To test this relationship, methods to accurately quantify body condition and obesity in elephants are warranted. Body condition scoring (BCS), an indirect means of measuring body condition based on visual evaluation of subcutaneous fat and key skeletal elements, has become an...