Mary E. Allen PhD1 and Duane E. Ullrey PhD2
1National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution Washington DC, USA, 2 Department of Animal Science Michigan State University East Lansing MI, USA

Nutritional science applied to zoo animals is a new field. In 1950’s, Wackernagel at the Basel Zoological Garden was a pioneer in recognizing the importance of nutrition. Rational diets were made in house for many species using knowledge of the requirements of domestic animals. In the 1930’s H.L. Ratcliffe began to formulate complete diets for animals at the Philadelphia Zoo. Few, if any, suitable, nutritionally complete feeds were available commercially. In the late 1950’s a white-tailed deer herd associated with the Department of Natural resources in Michigan provided the first opportunity to establish nutrient requirements of this uminant, which resulted in the formulation of complete pelleted feeds that were ultimately marketed for oo herbivores. Another important outcome was the establishment of known nutrient requirements for white-tailed deer. This model is used when formulating rations for most browsing herbivores. Michigan State University (MSU) formed the Comparative Nutrition Group to foster the education and training of students in this field. Many student projects were conducted at the Detroit and San Diego Zoos and involved nutritional studies with birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Such training at other universities in the US and abroad is increasing. The presence of trained nutritionists in zoos provides yet more opportunity for research. The more rapid advances in this field during the last 30-40 years are attributable to a number of factors; university involvement, opportunities for training and research, and the recognition by zoo administrators that adequate nutritional management is essential to preventive medicine. Odd habits and beliefs crop up concerning the feeding of zoo animals. Most are harmless but others may involve risk. Most of us welcome the involvement of reputable feed companies, but regulation of products is poor. A well-trained staff nutritionist is not only a safeguard against such practices, but is an important member of the decision making team concerning animal care and well-being.


Susan D. Crissey Ph.D1
1 Chicago Zoological Society, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL 60513, USA

In 1994 the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Nutrition Advisory Group (NAG) was formed. The mission of the Nutrition Advisory Group (NAG) is to promote the welfare of animals in
captivity by incorporating the science of nutrition into their husbandry. The goals are to:
1) Identify nutritional and dietary problems in zoos and facilitate their resolution.

2) Establish a mechanism for the review of nutritional and dietary information provided by AZA committees and subgroups.

3) Coordinate acquisition and dissemination of information regarding nutrition.

4) Encourage and coordinate nutrition-related investigations among zoos and collaborating

The purpose of membership in the NAG is to provide service to AZA. The main client of the members is the Zoo. The NAG began with nine members and now has 52 members and affiliates rom the zoo community, academia, and industry. There also is an executive committee of nine established. This committee works to represent the NAG, and liaise with other groups and organizations on behalf of the NAG, make decisions concerning the NAG and its activities, coordinate and disseminate information, facilitate the performance of action plans, approve and appoint NAG members and advisors, appoint sub-committees and task forces, review or appoint reviewers of publications. Nutrition is a science integral to the good management of zoo animals and must be addressed in a scientific and professional manner. The formation of a NAG gave the discipline, and/or practice of nutrition appropriate recognition. It allows for better communication and coordination among nutritionists and those requiring nutrition information (zoos). It helps provide leverage for accomplishing projects, research and or dealing with zoo nutrition and industry problems.


Sophie van Wees1, Joeke Nijboer BsC2, and Anton C. Beynen Prof. Dr.3
1 Faculty of Biology, Utrecht University, 3584 Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2 Rotterdam Zoo, 3000 AM
Rotterdam The Netherlands, 3 Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht
University, 3584 Utrecht, The Netherlands

An investigation of the current status of zoo nutrition in Europe was conducted by means of a questionnaire sent to European zoos, research institutions, and food industries in 30 European countries. Almost 50% of the zoo-questionnaires, 11% of the research-questionnaires and 13% of the food industry-questionnaires were returned. Responses are used to meet the project objectives set, namely: - Improve Zoo Nutrition in Europe - Improve communication between zoos, research and food industry. The main results and conclusions are: Only in ca. 20 % of the European zoos an animal nutritionist is employed. 80 % of the participating zoos remark that more research towards animal nutrition is necessary. Most food industries didn’t respond. Out of the answers of manufactures, which did respond no good general conclusions, could be made which were useful for this project. Research institutions, in spite their low response, and seem to be a better potential research partner in future. Recommendations Not many zoos do employ an animal nutritionist or conduct research towards animal nutrition. It can be wondered if it is realistic to think that this will change soon for the percentages are still more or less the same as 5 years ago. Some options to improve zoo nutrition can be: Better communication If nutrition problems occur a zoo should call a colleague of another zoo. For an EEP animal this can e the EEP-coordinator, or in other cases a zoo, which is very successful with the species concerned. To improve these contacts a list or Internet site can be made on which these addresses can be found. Internet, newsgroups, synchronized computer programs and regular meetings can improve communication, too. Contract out research as zoos are often not able to conduct their own research, they could contract it out. A list with potential research partners can be made. Fact sheets Fact sheets can be made for species kept in European zoos. They can form a valuable database, for instance on the Internet, which can be consulted by zoos. These fact sheets can contain all kind of nutritional information.