Quantification of enterobacteriaceae in faeces of captive black rhinoceros in relation to dietary tannin supplementation

Source: Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, volume 92, issue 1, 2008
Free-ranging browsing herbivores ingest a range of secondary plant compounds, such as tannins, with their natural diet. As many of these substances have been shown to have antibacterial properties, ...
it could be speculated that a lack of such compounds in captive zoo diets could favour the growth of potentially pathogenic intestinal bacteria. The effect of a supplementation of a conventional diet (N, consisting mainly of grass hay and/or lucerne hay and pelleted compound feeds) fed to eight captive black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis) from three zoological institutions with either tannic acid (T), a source of hydrolysable tannins, or quebracho (Q), a source of condensed tannins, was investigated. The number of faecal colony forming units (CFU) of Enterobactericeae was determined by colony count of dilution series from fresh faeces applied to MacConkey agar plates. Tannins were added to the diets at approximately 5–15 g/kg dry matter, depending on the varying intake of roughage and compound feeds by the animals. There was no difference in the number of CFU between diets N (95.0 × 105 ± 225.3 × 105/g fresh faeces) and T (164.3 × 105 ± 225.1 × 105/g fresh faeces); in contrast, diet Q led to a significant reduction in CFU (4.3 × 105 ± 6.5 × 105/g fresh faeces) compared with the other diets. These findings suggest that condensed tannins could have the potential to reduce the number of potentially pathogenic intestinal bacteria, and that the deliberate inclusion of tannin sources in the diets of captive wild animals should be further investigated. The fact that tannic acid, shown to have antibacterial effects in various in vitro studies, did not have an effect in this study, emphasizes that the relevance of tannin supplementation for intestinal health must be verified in vivo.

Title: Quantification of enterobacteriaceae in faeces of captive black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in relation to dietary tannin supplementation

Authors: M. Clauss, M. M. Wittenbrink, J. C. Castell, E. Kienzle, E. S. Dierenfeld, E. J. Flach, S. K. Macgregor, T. Hoppe, J. Hummel, W. J. Streich and J.-M. Hatt