Does B vitamin supplementation increase survival or weight gain stranded California sea lions

When pinnipeds enter a rehabilitation facility, they have often fasted for an unknown period of time and are nutritionally deficient. They often are then fed dead fish. Certain species of fish are deficient in vitamin B1, or thiamine, as they contain thiaminases, enzymes which break down this vitamin after the fish have died. Deficiencies in these vitamins can result in...

Effect of lutein supplementation on blood carotenoids and vitamins in a variety of marine mammals

Lutein, an oxygenated carotenoid concentrated in the retina in a variety of species, may enhance ocular health (Mares-Perlman et al., 2002). Given the high incidence of ocular pathology in captive marine mammals (Dunn et al., 1996), it was hypothesized that a lutein supplement may protect against some of these conditions. This trial examined the response of different marine mammals to...

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...

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...

Evaluating a field nitrate test for sudangrass hay to prevent nitrate poisoning

The objective of this study was to compare a field nitrate test using two different test strips to the hay nitrate concentrations determined at a commercial laboratory. Twelve samples of sudangrass hay collected in 2006 through 2008 were used to compare the nitrate concentration determined at a commercial laboratory using the RQflex Reflectometer method to those determined by a field...

Creating ice block cakes for enrichment

Animal enrichment has become an essential part of caring for captive animals in a zoological setting. There are various types of enrichment, which include social groupings, exhibit design, sensory stimulation, and different feeding strategies. One of the most common types of enrichment is feeding strategies. Ice blocks filled with various vegetables and fruits can be used to enrich animals. Ice...

Gut loading as a method to effectively supplement crickets with calcium and vitamin A

Limited quantities of vital nutrients such as calcium and vitamin A in crickets have led to the occurrence of diseases such as rickets, osteomalacia, metabolic bone disease (calcium deficiency) and more recently, squamous metaplasia or “short tongue syndrome” in amphibians. Gut loading has been an effective method to supplement feeder crickets with both calcium and vitamin A. A dose of...

Vitamin A supplementation via cricket dusting: the effects of dusting fed and fasted crickets of three sizes using two different supplements on nutrient content

This study was undertaken to determine the efficacy in delivering vitamin A supplementation via dusting feed crickets (Acheta domestica) to reptiles and amphibians, many of whom have shown vitamin A deficiencies at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and other institutions. While there have been multiple previous studies regarding supplementation in crickets, the majority have focused on calcium supplementation. Levels of vitamin A...

Application of body condition indices for leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis)

Indirect methods of assessing chelonian body condition using combinations of body mass and shell measurements have been explored: however, there is little published data on tracking captive chelonian health and growth using a body condition index (BCI). Two published BCI formulas were compared for application with a captive colony of leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis).

Assessment of leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) scent preference

It is suggested tortoises are attracted to certain ingredient scents. The preference for scent of ginger, anise, rose, and a control (water) among leopard tortoises was evaluated. Sixteen leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis) participated in a series of trials exposing them to pair-wise combinations of the three scents and control. Response criteria evaluated include position (left, right, no decision) and scent...

The interaction of diet, water chemistry, and disease state on the health of captive ornamental fish

Nutrition is an important modulator of immune function and can often tip the balance between health and disease. In order to maintain fish in aquaria, sound nutrition and adequate feeding are essential to fish health as clinical disease often ensues when nutritional needs are not met. Diets that are adequate with respect to essential nutrients can hasten recovery from infection,...

The milk repository at Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park

Lactation, the exocrine secretion of milk from mammary glands for the nourishment of young, is a defining characteristic of mammals. All female mammals produce milk, and milk is the first food of all neonatal mammals. The diversity of the mammalian radiation is reflected in the diversity of lactation strategies that have evolved. This in turn is reflected in differences in...

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...

Nutrition utilization by and diet preference of American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) when offered diets of channel catfish and (or) grass carp

Twelve pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) captured in northeast Mississippi were used to determine nutrient metabolism when consuming channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and(or) grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella). Another objective was to determine the dietary preference of pelicans when allowed to consume catfish and carp. For the 7-day metabolism trial pelicans were allotted to one of three treatment diets (4 birds/diet): catfish only,...

The formulation of an artificial diet for captive kiwi (Apteryx mantelli)

Population numbers of North Island brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) are estimated to have almost halved in the last decade. Despite some success of captive breeding, captive bred kiwi suffer higher embryonic and adult mortality rates, smaller eggs and lower hatching rates than wild kiwi. A major contributor to these problems is likely to be diet. The current diet fed to...

Comparative crop milk composition in grantivorous and frugivorous Columbidae

Crop milk, a glandular secretion produced by doves, pigeons, and some species of penguins and flamingoes, was collected from five different species of dove squabs at the Memphis Zoo between day 0 and 14 post-hatching. These species (Ptilinopus jambu, Ptilinopus magnificus, Gallicolumba luzonica, Gallicolumba rufigula, and Streptopelia decaocto), range from primarily frugivorous to primarily granivorous representatives of Columbidae. The samples...

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...

Comparing body condition estimates of zoo Brother’s Island Tuatara (Sphenodon guntheri) to that of the wild, a clinical case

Brother’s Island tuataras (Sphenodon guntheri) housed at the San Diego Zoo were measured and weighed routinely as part of the preventative medicine procedure. From June 2000 through April 2009, snout-vent length and mass were used from that data and compared to Brother’s Island tuataras that were sampled by Hoare et al., in the wild from 1957 to 2001. Along with...

Application of allometric field metabolic rate equations to predict energy and food requirements of leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis)

In the absence of species specific energy requirements, allometric formulas are one method to predict practical diet quantities. The objective of this study was to quantify individual voluntary dry matter (DMI), metabolizable energy (MEI) intake and body weight (BW) in 18 juvenile leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis). Over two 15-day periods (A, B), each animal was offered a nutritionally complete, extruded...

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...

Useful references in zoo and wildlife nutrition

Zoo and wildlife nutritionists apply their nutrition expertise daily to a variety of situations, ranging from the most applied to the most basic. These include commissary operation, inventory maintenance, staff direction, laboratory management, diet formulation and evaluation, consultations with other zoo personnel and other zoos, and budget supervision. Beyond this, they interact with professionals on topics outside of their profession,...

The effects of fertilization on nutrient content of pasture, soil and water in 3 savannahs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Historically, grass nutrient content at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (DAKL) has been observed to have high levels of potassium (> 4 %), a possible concerning factor in the development of hypomagnesemia in grazing hoofstock. There had been no fertilization of the savannahs at DAKL for 2 years prior to the current study, and potassium levels had reduced approximately by half...

Evaluation of season of harvest and water addition on forage quality of willow (Salix caroliniana) processed for silage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The objective of this study was to evaluate two seasons of harvest and water addition at the time of ensiling on silage quality of Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana). If successful, willow silage could be used as a supplement during the winter months for some browse-consuming animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The experiment consisted of two harvest seasons and two moisture...

Similarity of rumen degradable protein (RDP) degradation rates comparing in vitro and in situ techniques

Protein provided to ruminants can be divided into rumen degradable protein (RDP) and rumen undegradable protein (RUP). The RDP provides amino acids and ammonia-nitrogen which are vital to the growth of rumen microbes. An imbalance of the RDP supply and microbial RDP requirement can alter ruminal fermentation. The imbalance could lead to reproductive inefficiencies, inadequate growth, and ruminal acidosis. To...

A retrospective investigation of the prevalence and significance of hemosiderosis in captive pinnipeds

Iron is a trace element required for the synthesis of haemoglobin and a number of energetic reactions. In most species, iron uptake is primarily regulated by the absorption of iron and protein-addition conversion to ferritin in the mucosal layers of the intestines and the sloughing of mucosal layers when iron levels are replete. However, if this system becomes imbalanced as...

Diets offered to maned wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus) in North American zoos: a review and analysis

The maned wolf, a canid native to South America, has had a history of cystinuria and poor fecal consistency in North American institutions. Factors contributing to this may be related to feeding the species a primarily carnivorous diet, despite its omnivorous dietary habits under free-ranging conditions. To address cystinuria and fecal consistency, a commercially manufactured diet was fed to all...