Animal Nutrition

Scientific Papers

© Rory Harper

Meerkat Preferences_Brox et al 2021_ZooBiology.jpg

Investigating food preference in zoo-housed meerkats 
(Brox et al., 2021)

July 2021

A study in Zoo Biology looked into food preferences in zoo-housed meerkats:

Clear, stable preference hierarchy identified;

High in preference hierarchy: Cooked eggs & raw meat;

Lower in preference hierarchy: Vegetables;

Slight differences between juveniles & adults;

Applications to zoo management and welfare assessments.

Butterfly freeze diet_Zoo Biology_June 2021.jpg

A modified diet to support conservation of the Atala hairstreak butterfly (Eumaeus atala Poey)(Braatz et al., 2021)

June 2021

A study in Zoo Biology investigated the suitability of a freeze-dried diet in a captive breeding programme for the Atala hairstreak butterfly:

Smaller larvae fed freeze-dried leaves & stems from host plant;

Larger larvae switched to live-plant diet;

Highly successful method: over 3400 individuals released into the wild;

Freeze-dried diet is appropriate substitute when live plant is scarce or not available - potential applications to other butterfly species.

Ensiling maple leaves_Zoo Biology 2021.j

Ensiling of maple leaves and its use in winter nutrition of mantled guereza (Colobus guereza) (Lasek et al., 2021)

May 2021

A paper in Zoo Biology evaluated the composition and nutritional value of maple leaf silage and its suitability for inclusion in the winter diets of captive mantled guerezas:

Most nutrients were unaffected by ensiling process;

Mantled guerezas promptly fed on maple leaf silage.

Higher nutrient intake when maple leaf silage included in diet;

Ensiling, with or without additives, effectively conserved maple leaves.

Brown bear faecal consistency_February 2

Grading fecal consistency in an omnivorous carnivore, the brown bear: Abandoning the concept of uniform feces (De Cuyper et al., 2021)

February 2021

A study in Zoo Biology graded faecal consistency in nine zoo-housed brown bears fed a variety of diets:

Six-point scale established for uniform faeces;

Additional grading system for faeces with dual consistencies (observed in 11% of all faeces);

More vegetation or whole prey seemed to be associated with firmer faeces;

Faecal consistency is affected by diet in this species and can be used for gut health monitoring.

African elephant nutrition_Zoo Biology 2

Circulating nutrients and hematological parameters in managed African elephants (Loxodonta Africana) over a 1‐year period (Wood et al., 2020)

July 2020

A study published in Zoo Biology investigated the circulating nutrients and hematological parameters in zoo-housed African elephants, over a one-year period:

Seasonal changes in circulating nutrients;

African elephants fed mixed feedstuff & fortified pellet diets may not need Vitamin E supplementation.

Assessment of circulating nutrients provides evidence for better elephant management in captivity.

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Daily lettuce supplements promote foraging behavior and modify the gut microbiota in captive frugivores (Greene et al., 2020).

July 2020

A study in Zoo Biology investigated the effects of daily lettuce supplements on the behaviour and gut microbiota of captive ruffed lemurs:

The lemurs (especially younger individuals) consistently foraged on the lettuce during the study period;

Enrichment of potentially-beneficial microbes in the guts;

Lettuce provision is potentially beneficial to captive frugivores.

Twycross Zoo_Meerkat.jpg

Dietary management of hypercholesterolemia in a bachelor group of zoo-housed Slender-tailed meerkats (Suricata suricatta) (Dobbs et al., 2020)

October 2020

Captive meerkats are prone to high cholesterol levels, which can lead to health problems. A study in JZAR investigated the impact of a new diet on cholesterol levels in a group of zoo-housed meerkats:

New diet with lower saturated fat & cholesterol implemented;

Reduction of cholesterol levels in all individual meerkats;

Good body condition score & weight reported after new diet introduction.


Photo credit: Twycross Zoo