SNN, Taipei Zoo hold nutrition workshops

The SEAZA Nutrition Network (SNN) and Taipei Zoo held a series of lectures and workshops focusing on zoo animal nutrition from 15 to 19 July 2019 at Taipei Zoo, Taiwan.

The 2019 Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Training Course, spearheaded by Taipei Zoo, opened the week of animal nutrition seminars. Drs. Ellen S. Dierenfeld and Ci-Wen Yang delivered multiple introductory lectures covering aspects of zoo animal nutrition from food requirements of specific animal groups to management of zoo commissaries. To apply the knowledge acquired from these lectures, participants were divided into groups, led in nutrition planning of assigned zoo animals, and brought on a guided tour of Taipei Zoo’s commissary. The first day was drawn to a close with a social dinner.

The second day of the seminar covered more animal groups’ specific nutritional requirements using examples from certain species of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. In addition, the use of spectrometric techniques to quantify nutrients in animal food was discussed as a possible way to generate a database of nutrient content and help in the development of optimized nutrition plans. At the end of the second day, the participants were sent off to visit their assigned zoo animals within Taipei Zoo as part of the application.

Finally, on the third day of the training course, more lectures on animal nutrition, now focusing on differences in climate and on herbivory, were delivered by Drs. Dierenfeld and Yang. Supplement lectures on leaf-eating primates and transport of animals were delivered by Dr. Kevin Lazarus of Zoo Taiping & Night Safari and Dr. Ratna Kumar Duraisingam of Goatrade Farming Co., Ltd., respectively. The late afternoon was reserved for presentations of the different groups’ nutrition plans for their assigned animals.

The final two days of the seminars were the SEAZA Nutrition Network and Health Care Expertise Symposium. Members of the SNN from all over the region facilitated the lecture series dealing with applying and optimizing nutrition plans in practice. Dr. Francis Cabana, nutritionist of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and chair of the SNN, opened the symposium with an introduction of the SNN and an overview of key recurring topics to be discussed over two days. This was followed by a lecture on the role of zoo veterinarians as nutritionists by Ocean Park Hong Kong’s senior veterinarian Dr. Lee Foo-Khong, and a discussion of the system of body condition scoring as a starting point for good nutrition planning by WRS’ Chou Po-Han. The rest of the first day tackled how nutrition can impact reproduction and overall health in a range of animals including possible diseases that current feeding practices may bring.

Closing out the week of nutrition seminars was a series of talks on feeding less common animals such as the giant anteater and pangolin, coming up with nutrition plans using model animals, caring for geriatric animals with elephants and tapirs as examples, and considering the use of supplements in improving animal nutrition.

The 2019 Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Training Course and the SEAZA Nutrition Network and Health Care Expertise Symposium were made possible by Taipei Zoo, Southeast Asian Zoos and Aquariums Association, the Taiwan Aquarium and Zoological Park Association (TAZA), and Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund. Photos of the whole week can be viewed on SEAZA’s Facebook page.

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