Apparent digestibility of macro-nutrients in captive polar bears (Ursus maritimus)

Source: W.L. Jansen, J. Bos, E.J.B. Veldhuis Kroeze, A. Wellen and A.C. Beynen
The diet of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) under captive conditions differs from that in the wild. The wild polar bear feeds itself predominantly on the ringed seal (Phoca hispida), but they may also eat birds, grasses, moss, and berries (Russel 1975; Knutsen 1978).
Polar bears prefer to hunt seals, but they cannot successfully do so from shore during periods of open water and then they have to convert to other feeds (Stirling 1975). After a polar bear has killed a seal, it feeds predominantly on the blubber and often abandons the meat (Stirling 1975). In zoos, it is not possible to provide the polar bears with ringed seal. Mixtures of slaughter by-products, vegetables and commercial dog food are often supplied. This study presents data on the digestibility of a mixed ration in three captive polar bears. The results obtained may be used to qualify rations for polar bears.
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