© Rory Harper
Investigating food preference in zoo-housed meerkats
(Brox et al., 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.
A modified diet to support conservation of the Atala hairstreak butterfly (Eumaeus atala Poey)(Braatz et al., 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 of maple leaves and its use in winter nutrition of mantled guereza (Colobus guereza) (Lasek et al., 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.
Grading fecal consistency in an omnivorous carnivore, the brown bear: Abandoning the concept of uniform feces (De Cuyper et al., 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.
Circulating nutrients and hematological parameters in managed African elephants (Loxodonta Africana) over a 1‐year period (Wood et al., 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.
Daily lettuce supplements promote foraging behavior and modify the gut microbiota in captive frugivores (Greene et al., 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.
Dietary management of hypercholesterolemia in a bachelor group of zoo-housed Slender-tailed meerkats (Suricata suricatta) (Dobbs et al., 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