Feed intake and dietary composition of iron (Fe), copper (Cu), vitamin E and tannic acid of five captive black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in a UK collection

Ricketts, V., Dierenfeld, E. ORCID: 0000-0001-7295-0740, Sauer, C. and Whitehouse-Tedd, K. ORCID: 0000-0003-0061-489X, 2021. Feed intake and dietary composition of iron (Fe), copper (Cu), vitamin E and tannic acid of five captive black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in a UK collection. Zoo Biology, 40 (1), pp. 52-58. ISSN 0733-3188

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The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is a critically endangered species facing multiple anthropogenic pressures in its natural home range across Africa. Black rhinoceros are difficult to maintain ex situ and subject to diseases that are linked with captive dietary factors. Hemochromatosis is of particular concern, as it is a common finding at necropsy of captive adults, and has been linked to excessive dietary iron intake. This intake study investigates the select nutrient composition of the diets offered to and consumed by five captive black rhinoceros in a UK zoo to evaluate, ensure adequacy, and/or make adjustments if necessary. Alfalfa hay, pellets and six browse species offered were analyzed for iron (Fe), copper (Cu), vitamin E, and tannic acid content. Intakes were quantified and evaluated against levels found in wild diets and the currently available feeding guidelines for black rhinoceros. Diets eaten by five individual rhinoceros (1.4%–2.3% of bodyweight dry matter [DM] intake), comprising 68%–82% hay, 6%–13% pellets, and 13%–27% browse, contained 76–98 mg/kg Fe (on a DM basis), fell within the ranges of plants eaten by free‐ranging rhinoceros (45–140 mg/kg DM), as well as values recommended for captive‐fed browsing rhinoceros (50–100 mg/kg DM). Consumed diets were found to be marginal to adequate in Cu (9–11 mg/kg DM) compared with the recommended 10 mg/kg DM; dietary vitamin E ranged from 54 to 79 IU/kg DM, and tannic acid measured 13–14 g/kg DM. Commercial pellets were the primary contributor of dietary Fe, Cu, and vitamin E, containing up to 10 times more of each of those nutrients than the forages. Native browses were important sources of lower Fe ingredients, as well as appropriate levels of dietary Cu and vitamin E (dependent on species). Interestingly, pellets (23 g/kg) and alfalfa hay (14 g/kg) contained higher concentrations of tannic acid compared with any of the browses fed (4–13 g/kg). All nutritional parameters evaluated were close to recommended dietary levels, diets resembled values consumed in the wild, and the animals remained clinically healthy throughout the study. Overall, diets were considered nutritionally adequate for captive feeding of black rhinoceros; evaluating the nutrient composition of all ingredients, including browse plants in diets, provides important information for achieving optimal nutrient balance.

Item Type: Journal article
Alternative Title: Black rhino diet evaluation in a UK zoo [running head]
Publication Title: Zoo Biology
Creators: Ricketts, V., Dierenfeld, E., Sauer, C. and Whitehouse-Tedd, K.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: 5 February 2021
Volume: 40
Number: 1
ISSN: 0733-3188
Rights: © 2020 the authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 12 Oct 2020 14:48
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:20
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/41261

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