|Since the first European Zoo Nutrition Conference held in Rotterdam 1998, a small but dedicated group of people have striven to maintain the impetus that this conference achieved in terms of advancing the science of feeding animals maintained in zoos.
A wash-up meeting held after this conference identified the need to have a formal group that could effectively deal with many of the nutritional issues highlighted at the conference. Important among these was the need for a data bank, research, arranging specialised conferences, and also the need to offer specialist support for those appointed to advise Taxon Advisory Groups and Species Co-ordinators on nutritional matters.
Whilst progress has been painfully slow in achieving this goal, Joeke Nijboer and Walter Jansen, who were principally involved in organising the highly successful Rotterdam Meeting, have managed to set-up the European Zoo Nutrition Centre (EZNC) at the EAZA headquarters in Amsterdam. This achievement clearly reflects their personal commitment (and also that of EAZA) to the advancement of nutritional standards in European zoo collections.
Significant progress has been made since the last Annual Meeting of EAZA in Leipzig 2003, in terms of providing a more comprehensive Nutritional Advisory Board (NAB) for the EAZA membership. Henceforth, the EZNC will play a significant role together with the EAZA Nutrition Group (ENG) in providing specialist support for the growing list of nutrition advisors appointed to the various Taxon Advisory Groups (TAG).
The future of the EAZA Nutritional Advisory Service will now very much depend on developing a close working relationship between both the EZNC & ENG - this will be more fully developed at the 2004 EAZA meeting in Sweden.
This report details the Centre's progress during 2002/3 and also acknowledges the financial support given by the zoo community and by industry.
General curator Marwell Preservation Trust
Acting Chairman - EAZA Nutritional Advisory Board.
|The world faces a conservation crisis that is at once both urgent and enormous in scale. Zoos and aquaria can make a powerful contribution through nutrition science and research. Good nutrition saves animals from extinction. Nutrition research is vital in helping to characterize and solve the challenges at hand. Since the publication of the World Zoo Conservation Strategy a little over ten years ago, research in zoos and aquaria has expanded in scope, quality and importance. Despite this surge in research efforts worldwide, zoos and aquaria must do even more over the next ten years, particularly in the vital area of nutrition.
The World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy emphasizes that through their living collections, zoos and aquaria offer a unique contribution to conservation-directed research. No other network of institutions can provide, as a resource for study, representative populations of so diverse an array of the world's wildlife. In addition, zoos and aquaria offer a rare venue for researchers and the public to meet and communicate, providing an essential platform for interpreting the outcomes of research and its implications for conservation action.
The integration of zoos into the research community and public consciousness are the key for important, collaborative conservation initiatives. Zoos and aquaria must and will become organizations that make significant contributions and sound scientific decisions for wildlife worldwide.
At present, we do not have a systematic database describing zoo and aquarium nutrition research efforts on a world-wide basis. We do, however, have a database that describes the nutrition research undertaken by the European Zoo Nutrition Centre (EZNC) and Dutch Federation Zoos (NVD).That information is summarized in appendix 1. Clearly, we need to establish a database that encompasses projects undertaken by zoos and aquaria throughout the world. More importantly, to be more effective in delivering conservation in situ, priority must be given to those areas that have clear and important implications for saving populations in the wild, such as wildlife nutrition.
The European Zoo Nutrition Centre calls on institutions to increase investment in research projects that contribute directly or indirectly to conservation in the wild. In particular, zoos and aquaria are called on to increase nutrition research in those areas most likely to impact on in situ conservation.
To meet the growing challenges, zoos and aquaria must optimize their collective resources for nutrition science and research.
There are still only a few zoos and aquaria that employ professional nutritionists. Zoo nutrition related scientific journals are published regularly and symposia on nutrition research are increasing. This trend must be maintained, supported and expanded if zoos and aquaria are to realize their potential. In particular, zoos and aquaria must have permanent access to nutritionists in the more widely used disciplines, and ideally, experts in these should be familiar with zoos and how they operate.
Avenues must be provided that encourage and enable all to participate.
Effectively harnessed, the European network of EAZA zoos and aquaria offers a huge research resource for universities and research institutes, as well as the zoo and aquarium community itself. Carefully designed and executed nutrition research projects that operate across zoos and aquaria will benefit from greatly increased sample sizes. It will also cater for involvement of both large and small institutions, as well as providing opportunities to assess the influence of a broader range of variables on the data collected. In addition, wider participation brings a greater awareness of research methods, requirements and benefits to the zoo and aquarium community.
Similarly, within zoo nutrition research efforts should be inclusive. That is, all areas of a zoo's operation, including conservation outreach programs, will benefit from nutrition research, and all staff should be involved either directly or indirectly.
The European Zoo Nutrition Centre calls on zoos and aquaria to encourage wider participation in nutrition science and research by:
1. Using regional collaborative networks of zoos and aquaria to increase project sample sizes and therefore the quality and accuracy of results.
2. Ensuring that basic experimental design, analysis and presentation of results are included in training courses tailored to zoo and aquarium staff.
In addition, those zoos without the resources to employ full-time nutritionists are encouraged to create links with local universities and institutions. These links should be aimed at allowing undergraduate students coordinated and supervised access to zoo populations. This would have the dual benefit of helping to further institutionally, regionally and/or globally agreed nutrition research priorities, and help to train the nutritionists of the future.
Zoos and Aquaria must support and have access to banks of key data.
Nutrition databases and research material banks can increase efficiency. We are now poised to create a very powerful database that promises to enable zoo and aquarium nutritionists to access data on virtually all of the animals in some 275 institutions spread over more than 34 countries. In its final form, this database will not only have all information on nutrition recommendations and nutritional content of feedstuffs for every animal in our care, but it will also link other databases to the master inventory. These databases will deal with topics such as disease and behaviour, making the databases the most powerful research tool at our disposal. This effort must be carried out within the next few years.
Funding must increase.
More funds must be made available to zoo nutrition research. The zoos themselves pay very little of the cost of research in zoos, and the amount of money spent varies significantly between zoos.
Research funding opportunities for zoos, other than their own income, include subsidies, research grants, and sporadic funding, through external institutions, e.g. universities, research funds, government grants or nature conservation bodies.
The European Zoo Nutrition Centre urges institutions to direct a larger percentage of their budgets towards nutrition-directed research. In addition, they should work both independently and cooperatively to obtain external nutrition research funding.
Research findings must be disseminated widely and effectively.
Results of zoo nutrition research are often published in professional/scientific books and journals, and consequently directed to a scientific audience outside the zoo world. However, zoo nutrition research should also increase the knowledge within the zoos, and zoos must be able to evaluate the practical relevance of research results. Obviously most zoos are not equipped with a large team of diverse experts that can evaluate what are often very specialized publications in the scientific literature.
In many cases, the results of research in zoos remain in the form of internal reports and are not freely accessible in publications. Because these reports often include information that is also important for other zoos, the European Zoo Nutrition Centre offers the opportunity to make them as accessible as possible. Short reports in relevant zoo journals and newsletters will contribute to the dissemination of the information.
The accessibility and availability of research results can also be promoted through the compilation of bibliographies. Such bibliographies for species, animal groups, or research disciplines can be compiled by individual researchers, zoos, zoo organizations, or research institutions, and will be published by the European Zoo Nutrition Centre.
The European Zoo Nutrition Centre calls on all researchers to publish their results (also) in literature that is available to zoos, with the emphasis on relevancy whenever possible. EAZA Zoo Nutrition Specials, Zoo Animal Nutrition Books, the International Yearbooks and journals within the zoo world are entirely suitable, and symposia, conferences, and the EZNC website (www.eznc.org), and workshops where results can be presented are frequently organized.
Amsterdam, September 1, 2004
Walter L. Jansen
Secretary and Treasurer
|Since 2002, the EZNC has been staffed by students from the Van Hall Institute (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands). Students of all Dutch (professional) universities are encouraged to work for the Centre. The EZNC is pleased that in 2002 and 2003, 36 students performed a project for the Centre. Most of the students (23) came from the Van Hall Institute (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands), and most of them were studying for a bachelor degree in animal nutrition.
European Zoo Nutrition Centre (EZNC) is a non-profit foundation and set up by Walter L. Jansen, MSc PhD, chairman, and Joeke Nijboer, BSc., secretary and treasurer, who work several days a week on EZNC business.
The intention is to realize the possibility of employing two professional full-time members of staff.
The EZNC office is based at the EAZA Executive Office in Artis Zoo, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. EZNC is grateful for being allowed the use of the technical office equipment of EAZA. During its short existence, the EZNC has formed an (inter)national network through which targets can be developed and information obtained. Administrative support is sponsored by NT- Services.
The EZNC consults four times a year with Koen Brouwer and Bart Hiddinga (EAZA Executive Office), twice a year with representatives of the EAZA Nutrition Group and once a year with representatives from Marwell Zoo .
Nutrition advisors have a central position in advising those who are interested in zoo and wildlife nutrition.
They offer nutritional advice to TAGs, EEPs and ESBs, suggest initiatives to the EZNC, and undertake nutrition related projects.
The EZNC facilitates contacts between the zoo representatives and the nutrition advisors.
Various TAGs, EEPs and ESBs have requested nutrition advisors, some of which have already been appointed:
- Cheetah EEP
- Ecuadorian Amazon EEP
- Equine TAG
- European lynx EEP
- European mink
- European otter EEP
- Falconiform & Strigiformes TAG
- Felid TAG
- Guenon EEP
- Okapi EEP
- Parrot TAG
- Pigs & Peccaries TAG
- Tapir TAG
- Woolly monkey EEP
- Callitrichids TAG
Walter Jansen (WJ) and Joeke Nijboer (JN) are members of the following organizations:
- Comparative Nutrition Society (JN)
- EAZA Nutrition Advisory Board (NAB) (JN)
- EAZA Nutrition Group (ENG), (WJ & JN)
- EAZA research committee (WJ & JN)
- ENAS (WJ & JN)
- European Association for Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (EAZWV), (WJ)
- Nutrition Advisory Group (NAG) (JN)
- Platform Verantwoord Huisdierenbezit (PVH), (WJ)
- Raad voor Dieren Aangelegenheden (RDA), Dutch Advisory Committee for the Ministry of Agriculture, (WJ & JN)
- Royal Netherlands Society for Agriculture Sciences (KLV), (WJ)
- Zoo Nutrition Group, Dutch Zoo Federation, (WJ & JN)
|Zoo animal feed is very much a niche market. Thanks to the effort of the EZNC, this market is a rapidly developing one in Europe. The first hurdle was to establish the requirements of the very wide variety of exotic species housed in European Zoos. Collecting the appropriate data is intensive and extensive work.
Collection and collation of nutritional information
Zoo Nutrition Tables and Guidelines.
The booklet contains information on: animal mass and metabolic rates, blood values, recommendations, foodstuff analyses, how to calculate a diet, commercial advertisements and translations and abbreviations of commonly used foodstuff. It is a very useful tool in designing a scientifically based diet for exotic animals. This booklet, pocket sized at 11 by 18 cm, contains 120 pages of information on nutrition items and can be bought at the EZNC office.
Collection of successful diets.
We already collected more than 1200 diets, and a part of this collection is available on our website (www.EZNC.org). It is intended that this database will contain at least 10,000 diets offered to zoo animals. Institutions will be invited to add their diets to this database and these diets will then be used when making recommendations for diets. A diet inventory has again been circulated among Dutch NVD zoos ("bigger zoos"). This information will provide an improved overview of which products are being fed and which diets are used in Dutch NVD zoos. In addition, a new nutrition literature survey has been made. The results are available on CD-ROM for all Dutch NVD zoos.
Students in the smaller zoos in the Netherlands, which are organized in the organization "Dier en Park", have made a summary of diets. The data will be analysed and the conclusions will be used to offer advice on improving their diets.
Evaluation of successful diets.
We evaluated the pelican diets collected and have begun to evaluate the primate diets collected. Students of the EZNC made a survey of diets fed to New World primates in Amersfoort Zoo, The Netherlands. The data were compared with the available research data and the results will be used in offering general advice on feeding small New World primates in Dutch zoos.
We already have draft feeding guidelines for ratites and Asian turtles (five species). The EZNC is the appointed nutrition advisor for the Pelican and Cormorant TAG, as well as European Mink and European Lynx EEP studbooks. Extensive literature surveys on the relevant nutrition have been done. Together with the North-American nutrition advisor, nutrition guidelines have been set up for the pelican and cormorant TAG. The nutrition guidelines are now ready and available to the TAG / EEP chairs for further implementation.
Execute and initiate research.
We have already published several scientific articles and initiated research projects on:
Browse Pellet development.
Together with the commercial feed company Arie Blok Diervoeding (Woerden, the Netherlands) an extensive literature review has been made on why browsers need specific food items. The conclusions of the various reports have led to the development of a browse pellet containing high amounts of fibres from leaves.
This unique pellet can be fed to browsers such as okapis, kudus, giraffes and bongos. In 2004, a detailed study on fibre digestion will be performed. The EZNC supports the initiatives taken by Rotterdam Zoo in developing silages made from leaves. This product can replace fresh, frozen or dried browse fed to browsers, and is particularly useful in the winter months when fresh browse is limited. In addition, if this new technique were available on a broad scale, the amount of browse fed to browsers would greatly increase.
Faecal dry matter content and digestive strategies of ruminants.
The EZNC assisted in the collection and analysis of data on the faeces of ruminants to investigate the digestive strategies of ruminants. This study, carried out by a student of the University of Wageningen, showed that there was no correlation between digestive strategy and faeces constitution.
Woolly monkeys Diabetes mellitus, hypertension or
Woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha) are difficult to maintain in captivity. Only a few zoos have these rare monkeys in their collection as woolly monkeys can be affected by several health and reproductive problems. Many females show a reduced body mass during pregnancy and fairly often abort without obvious reasons. Offspring frequently died at a young age, although body sizes of the young woolly monkeys born in the last few years have all been considered normal. With this decrease of body mass in pregnancy and the high numbers of abortions, a healthy pregnancy state is difficult to establish. The complications that arise are very similar to those of diabetes mellitus and hypertension in humans, and the symptoms are often pronounced during pregnancy. The woolly monkey may be genetically predisposed to develop these conditions, but several other factors including stress, unsuitable accommodation, the composition of the diet provided or pregnancy, could also be involved. While there is not enough accurate information available to be sure about these assumptions, these health problems should be indicated and described up during veterinary examinations. Together with the University Wageningen, a PhD project has been set up to study diabetes mellitus in woolly monkeys.
Nutritional Wisdom of Zookeepers.
A study performed by students of the Van Hall Institute showed that the nutritional wisdom of zoo staff needs to be improved. In addition, communication concerning zoo animal diets should also be improved in order to ensure that appropriate diets are reliably fed to zoo animals. The supervisors of the students presented this report during the EAZA meeting in Leipzig in 2003, and the results suggested an improvement in the wisdom of zoo animal nutrition within zoo staff.
Nutritional quality of insects.
In cooperation with a student of the Van Hall Institute, a research project has been carried out on the feeding of different amounts of calcium to insects in order to improve the calcium content of the fed insects in the diet.
Iron storage in birds and development of low iron feed for birds.
An extensive study has been made on the mechanism and factors that influence iron storage in animals. The target is to set up a detailed study on haemosiderosis in fruit eating birds in Europe.
Protein requirements of small birds.
Current nutrient requirements for wild birds in captivity are extrapolated from nutritional requirements for commercial poultry, food habits of wild birds, and information that has been generated through years of trial and error feeding. In cooperation with the University of Gent, a project has been proposed to determine the energy and protein requirements of birds kept in zoos, based on the description of growth and carcass composition of particular species. Hand-rearing data on nutrition of birds at Artis Zoo have been collected as a preliminary stage. These data were ordered and interpreted by a student from the Van Hall Institute.
Nutrition of the European Lynx.
Initiatives were taken by the European Mink stud- book keeper, Dr. Tiit Maran, and Dr. Tjalling Huisman from the Van Hall Institute, to set up an extensive nutrition project both in the wild and in captivity. Students from the Van Hall Institute will carry out this project in 2004.
Student field project in Spain
Students will also perform a long-term field project in Spain in 2004 on how European lynxes survive on rabbits alone.
The EZNC gave advice on setting up the otter nutrition project of the German Association for Otter Conservation.
Basic nutritional knowledge course
It was felt that a prêt à porter course would be useful to increase basic nutritional knowledge. Sparsholt College has developed a one-day course. A CD-rom is available on this course and can be obtained through the EZNC.
Fish-food quality course.
In conjunction with the University of Utrecht, the EZNC has developed a fish-food quality course. The first day of the two-day course is devoted to the theoretical implications of fish quality. The second day focuses on the practical inspection of fish quality by visiting a local fish market and discussing quality with the main fish supplier to the Dutch zoos. If translated, the course can be run by the EAZA office or by a tutor elsewhere. A study has also been undertaken to make an inventory on the thawing systems used in Dutch zoos. An HACCP based system will be set up on how fish should be thawed to meet the criteria for fish fed in Dutch zoos.
Meetings at EAZA office.
The staff members have made presentations for particular courses at the EAZA office on the importance of nutrition and how the EZNC can provide support. This has been done four times this year.
The website of the EZNC contains useful nutritional information for exotic animal collections. It can be seen that there is an increasing interest in the information available on the website. The website is regularly updated and will contain much more nutritional information in the future.
Nutrition advisors have a central position in communicating with those who are interested in zoo and wildlife nutrition. They give advice to TAGs, EEPs and ESBs and they can make use of the EZNC to initiate or execute nutritional (related) projects. Please contact the EZNC for names and addresses.
EAZA members will be strongly encouraged to contribute to the group by acting as nutri-tion advisors to TAG, EEP or ESB programs. In this capacity, they will assist in establishing formal peer-reviewed nutrition guidelines for the "Management in Captivity" section of Husbandry Guidelines, thereby supporting the work of these programs by addressing specific nutritional concerns.
The EZNC started a Newsletter in April 2003 by e-mail in the Netherlands and it will be available in 2004 in English for the European Zoo Nutrition Community.
EAZA Zoo Nutrition News special issue.3
As follow up to the Joint Nutrition Conference in Antwerp in August 2002, it was suggested that a specific EAZA newsletter focussing on that conference should be distributed. Twelve articles of this Zoo Nutrition News special issue no 3 were included in the issue. The EZNC managed the articles submitted, their review, layout, printing, distribution, advertisements, and the finances of the issue. This issue was send to all JNSconference participants and to all EAZA members.
Conference book "2nd Zoonutrition Congress Marwell Zoo".
This book was published as a sequel to the second European Nutrition Conference, that should have been held in Marwell Zoo, Winchester (UK), but which was cancelled due to the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2002. From the smaller meeting held, a book was distributed called "Zoo Animal Book no. 2". The EZNC coordinated the finances and distribution of the book to the people who were due to have attended the conference.
Zoo Animal Nutrition Tables and Guidelines.
Highly relevant information on nutritional needs of zoo and exotic animals are gathered in a small booklet called "Zoo Animal Nutrition Tables and Guidelines". This booklet was published in September 2003.
The booklet is easy to use and has a size of approximately 11 by 18 cm, with over 120 pages. Our target is to update this booklet regularly. A review on this booklet can be found in Appendix 1.
The EZNC took the initiative in setting up the NVD-voedingsgroep (NVD-nutrition group). This groups meets twice a year and discusses projects on zoo nutrition. For example, there has been a discussion on the use of a particular browse pellet. Other projects of this group include a discussion on the cost of the foods used, inventory and advice on the use of vitamin and mineral supplements by fish-eating animals. The EZNC performs the secretarial duties of this group and Joeke Nijboer has been chosen as the chairperson for three years.
|EZNC will set up an advisory board, which wil consist of representatives of the EAZA, the commercial zoo food industry, governmental organizations and universities. The task of this board will be to stimulate and help the EZNC in performing its targets.
EZNC helps zoo staff to provide better diets for the animals.
The members of the EAZA play a vital part in conservation by actively participating in EEP's, TAG's and ESB's. The objective of these intensive breeding programmes is to establish healthy reserve populations of rare and endangered species. For optimal animal care, guidelines for husbandry are essential. These guidelines should contain also a nutrition chapter. The EZNC coordinates, supports and set up nutrition sections for husbandry guidelines, in close collaboration with the coordinators of several of these programmes.
EZNC improves scientific knowledge on zoo animal nutrition.
Compared to domestic animals, there is a great lack of knowledge in scientific based zoo animal nutrition. The EZNC will initiate long-term research projects on specific nutritional problems designed to improve nutrition in several species.
EZNC supports nutrition courses, which can be used in the whole of Europe.
Nutritional knowledge of zoo animals is developing rapidly. Nutritional education is important for all European zoos. Although there are several universities and institutions offering nutrition courses focussed on non-domestic animals, these courses are often limited to specific regions within Europe. The
EZNC supports nutrition courses that can be used throughout Europe.
EZNC supports and develops nutrition software.
Calculating diets can be done by hand or by specially developed computer programmes. The EZNC supports the nutrition programme "ZootritionTM" which was developed by Wildlife Conservation in New York. This programme will be an important tool in developing diets and for exchanging nutritional information between insti-tutions in Europe, as well as in other parts of the world.
The EZNC is also setting up a new zoo animal nutrition programme. It is their intention that this simplified nutrition programme would be used along with the more extensive Zootrition programme.
EZNC supports communication all over Europe to develop nutritional knowledge.
Communication is of prime importance. Therefore the EZNC has developed a website (WWW.EZNC.ORG) which will contain all relevant information acquired by the Centre. It already contains information on current scientific nutrition projects. The EZNC is also organizing the 4th European Zoo Nutrition Conference on 21-23 January 2005, in Leipzig, Germany.
EZNC makes nutrition literature accessible for all European zoos.
One of the major complaints in the zoo world is the lack of access to zoo animal nutrition literature. The EZNC aims to summarize and regularly update relevant zoo nutrition literature and place it on its website.
|The staff of EZNC made several trips in 2002/ 2003:
The Netherlands, 2002
Arie Blok Diervoeding, Woerden
The Netherlands, 2003
Bird TAG meeting, Burgers Zoo, Arhnem,The Netherlands, 2003
Chester Zoo, Chester,
United Kingdom, 2002
EAZA annual meeting, Barcelona,
EAZA annual meeting, Leipzig Zoo, Germany, 2003
EAZA Nutrition Group meeting, Safaripark Beekse bergen, Hilvarenbeek, The Netherlands, 2003
Fourth European Zoo Nutrition Conference, Organizing commitee meeting, Leipzig Zoo, Germany, 2003
Joint Nutrition Symposium, Antwerp, Belgium, 2002
Marwell Preservation Trust, Marwell Zoological park, Winchester, United Kingdom, 2003
Mazuri, United Kingdom, 2002
Nutrition Advisory Group meeting, Minneapolis Zoo, USA, 2003
Versela Laga, Belgium, 2002
|Many projects and developments could not have taken place without the help of many volunteers of the EZNC. They are our sponsors in kind. The first name on the list of the EZNC is the staff of the EAZA Executive Office for their spiritual and practical support. A very important sponsor in kind is T.R. Huisman BSc, Lecturer in Animal Nutrition, Dept. of Animal Management, Van Hall Institute, Leeuwarden, for his extensive support and cooperation with the EZNC. Through him, many students have been encouraged to undertake a training period place at the EZNC.
Other sponsors are L. Lipman PhD, Lecturer at the University of Utrecht, Prof. A.C. Beynen PhD, University of Utrecht, A. Stoppels BSc., InHolland, Hogere, Agrarische School Den Bosch, S. van Wieren and Prof. M. Verstegen PhD, University of Wageningen, Groenhorst College (Barneveld), Rotterdam Zoo, M. Gore PhD and members of the ENG.
Arie Blok Diervoeding
Avian Birdfood Products
Best Zoo (Dierenpark De Vleut)
Dier en Park
Dierenpark en Reptielenhuis 'De Oliemeulen'
Duke's & Botley
Dutch Zoo Federation
Mazuri Zoo Foods
Parlevliet & Van der Plas
Reptielen Zoo 'Serpo'