Hypovitaminosis A: influence of three diets or topical treatment on hepatic, adipose, and plasma retinoid concentrations and presence of squamous metaplasia in Mississippi gopher frogs (Rana capito servosa)

Hypovitaminosis A has been linked to health concerns in amphibians causing squamous metaplasia of the tongue, bladder, kidneys and other organs. Juvenile Mississippi Gopher Frogs (Rana capito servosa) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (n = 32) were randomly assigned to one of four vitamin A treatment groups including three dietary feeder cricket treatments and one topical vitamin A...

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...

A comparative nutrient analysis of fish species consumed by managed and free-ranging common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates) with respect to ammonium urate nephrolithiasis

Ammonium urate nephroliths develop in common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) managed under human care, but do not occur in free-ranging dolphins (Smith et al., 2013). In mammals, urate urolith development has been attributed partly to the effect of diet on urine saturation and pH. Free-ranging and collection dolphins consume diets that differ in fish species variety, location, and fresh versus...

Feeding strategies in wild carnivores: progress report of a model approach

Feeding strategies among wild carnivores are still partly unexplained. Carnivore mass is a determining factor in the choice for a specific range in prey size (Carbone et al., 1999). According to Carbone et al. (2007), two dietary groups can be distinguished: small carnivores hunting on small prey (< 20 kg) and large carnivores hunting on large prey (> 20 kg)....

Utilization of pork and pork by-products for nutritional management of captive exotic felids

Currently beef and horse comprise the majority of raw meat diet formulations marketed by US companies manufacturing and supplying carnivore diets to zoological institutions. Pork-based diets have traditionally not been fed to managed exotic carnivores, primarily because of microbial and pathogenic concerns, and nutrient digestibility of pork has not been evaluated in captive exotic felids. Additionally, the pork industry currently...

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...

Ex situ amphibian nutrition: recent findings and future directions

In 2013 a workshop was hosted to evaluate the current understanding of amphibian medicine and nutrition, in order to further our progress in establishment of successful breeding programs to promote amphibian conservation (Olea-Popelka et al., 2014). The Nutrition Working Group identified a number of challenges and opportunities for advancement in this field (Ferrie et al., 2014). First, an overarching theme...

Evaluation of the nutritional status of rehabilitated green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) utilizing nutritional markers, stable isotopes, and metagenomics

Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are unique because hatchlings and pelagic juveniles are carnivorous, while later life history stages are primarily herbivorous. Dietary requirements at each life stage are poorly understood, making diet selection during rehabilitation of injured and sick animals challenging. Although turtles are typically transitioned to an herbivorous diet before release, food items high in animal protein (e.g.,...

Body weight changes of leopard tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) fed two isoenergetic diets

Growth patterns of captive leopard tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) have been compared with those of free-ranging individuals (Hailey and Coulson, 1999; Rall, 1988; Ritz et al., 2010). Although useful comparative references for captive animal management, the lack of quantified food intake and opportunistic morphometric sampling associated with wild specimens limits their application. Average daily gain (ADG) of 17 female leopard tortoises...

Non-healing subcutaneous hemorrhage in a colony of vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) due to suspected vitamin C deficiency

The Milwaukee County Zoo has housed vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) since 1973. The bats are fed defibrinated cow’s blood with a liquid pediatric multivitamin supplement. In November 2013, one bat developed a non-healing left wing hematoma. An August 2014 post-mortem examination revealed multifocal extensive necrohemorrhagic and suppurative ulcerative dermatitis with no underlying cause determined. From July to December 2014, five...

Considerations to maximize nutrient supplementation of feeder insects

Providing a nutritionally appropriate diet to amphibians and other insectivores under human care has long proved challenging. The number of available insect species is limited and typically deficient in key nutrients such as calcium and vitamin A. Until more nutritionally balanced options are available, actions should be undertaken to improve the nutritional quality of feeder insects such as the domestic...

Understanding the interactions of diet and lighting on frogs and their symbiotic bacteria to improve ex situ husbandry of amphibians

Amphibians are undergoing massive population declines in the wild, in part due to infectious diseases including chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). In response, amphibian populations are being maintained in ex situ breeding programs while viable treatments for chytridiomycosis are developed. One potential action involves the use of symbiotic bacteria from the skin of amphibians; however multiple...

Evaluation of vitamin A status and diagnosis of hypovitaminosis A in amphibians

Without supplementation, insect-based diets for amphibians and reptiles are known to be deficient in nutrients such as calcium and vitamin A (Livingston et al., 2014). In the last decade, hypovitaminosis A has been recognized as a limiting factor for amphibian conservation programs that must successfully maintain and breed endangered species for ex situ rescue, survival assurance, and reintroduction programs (Pessier,...

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...

The tools we use: outfitting your operation for efficacy and efficiency

Outfitting your nutrition operation can feel a bit like building an arsenal with which you can draw from to fight the good fight that is feeding your animals. However, what you put in your arsenal will depend entirely on your goals as a department and the space and capacity you have available. Wherever your operation lands on the centralized/decentralized commissary...

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...

Financial aspects of zoo diet management

Food purchases tend to be one of the greatest expenses, beyond salaries and benefits, for the maintenance of any zoo collection. For this reason, the commissary/food budget is one that receives a lot of attention during the budget planning process. Upon each accreditation inspection, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) requires proof of financial stability, including insurance coverage, evidence...

Creation of the Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Foundation

The Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Foundation (ZWNF) was formed in March 2012 and became an official 501(c)3 organization a year later. The Foundation was established for the purpose of contributing expertise and providing funds to support the field of zoo and wildlife nutrition worldwide, furthering the science of zoo nutrition, facilitating the dissemination of nutrition knowledge, and developing the next...

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...

Use of a novel iron chelator (HBED) in black rhinoceros

Black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis) are critically endangered and are compromised by iron overload under human care (Paglia and Tsu, 2012; Molenaar et al., 2008). With the goal of safely reducing iron absorption in the gastrointestinal tract of affected and susceptible individuals, we investigated oral administration of the iron chelator, N,N-bis(2-hydroxybenzyl)ethylenediamine-N,N–diacetic acid (HBED) to 2.1 black rhinoceros. We expected HBED administration...

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...

An analysis of vitamin C supplementation in the drinking water for giant elephant shrews (Rhynchocyon petersi) at the Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo acquired 2.2 Giant Elephant Shrews, Rhynchocyon petersi, in July 1999 for the purpose of exhibition and reproduction. At that time, limited anecdotal dietary and activity budget data were available for this species. The animals appeared to be clinically healthy and in ‘ideal’ nutritional condition upon arrival. Intensive observational studies of time budgets and food and water intake...

I want to be a zoological animal nutritionist or veterinarian but how do I afford the cost of my education? Student debt relief

The high cost of education and the burden of student debt prevent many from pursuing and remaining in public interest careers. Our world has a growing need for higher degrees, but the cost of educating our populace is shifting to students and families. The average student loan debt for a Bachelor’s degree exceeds $30,000 while the debt for advanced degrees...

Nutritionally complete food-free diets for primates: potential benefits and concerns

Many zoos and institutions offer nutritionally complete foods (NCF) in the diets of captive primates (Oftedal and Allen, 1996). These foods, which often take the form of extruded biscuits, canned diets or gels, provide a source of important nutrients like protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals, thereby helping to meet minimum estimated nutrient requirements (Oftedal and Allen, 1996; NRC, 2003)....

Associations between diet, gut microbial communities, and health in red-shanked doucs (Pygathrix nemaeus): a model for the subfamily colobinae

Red-shanked doucs (Pygathrix nemaeus) and other colobines possess specialized gastrointestinal systems similar to ruminants. They utilize both fore- and hindgut fermentation to meet their energetic demands. Maintenance of captive populations has been largely unsuccessful. Improving captive conditions is hindered by critical gaps in our understanding of their natural diet and enteric microbial adaptations that facilitate the digestive process. We used...

Nutrition therapy for human gastrointestinal disorders and application to captive non-human primates

Abnormal gastrointestinal function is considered to be a common problem among captive non-human primates. Certain nutrients and diet patterns are implicated in abnormal gastrointestinal function and disease. The human nutrition field uses medical nutrition therapies to prevent and/or manage a variety of gastrointestinal disorders. Some of these may be appropriate for application to non-human primates. Current evidence-based nutrition interventions for...

Apple leaves and bark as browse items for herbivorous monogastrics under human care

Many zoological institutions are faced with challenges when developing and providing a diet for their non-ruminant browsing herbivores. The most prominent issue remains providing readily available, safe and sufficient quantities of plant material. Zoos are often forced, usually by climate, to utilize seasonally available, local, appropriate and or novel plant species in order to decrease the effort and expense required...

Stronger than yesterday: new nutrient recommendations for lorisine primates

Asia’s slow lorises (Nycticebus spp.) are heavily impacted by the illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. Confiscated lorises by Customs officials find themselves in rescue centers with approximately 50% of them having had their lower teeth removed by the poachers and must remain in the rescue centre indefinitely, if they survive. Reintroductions do occur but success is very low. Despite...