Diet composition, food intake, body condition, and fecal consistency in captive tapirs in UK collections

Source: Zoo Biology 2009, volume 28, issue 4
Intake measurements were carried out in 22 tapirs from seven UK zoological collections. Dry matter intake (DMI) ranged from 48 to 86 g/kg0.75/d. Across collections, the highest proportion of the ingested diet consisted of pelleted feeds ...
(including grains and bread) at 46±17% DMI, followed by commercial produce at 26±12% DMI, roughage (excluding browse) at 17±11% DMI, and browse at 11±11% DMI. The proportion of roughage, crude protein, crude fiber, and neutral detergent fiber levels in the diets investigated were well below levels recommended for domestic horses and other ungulates. Intakes of digestible energy (DE) as estimated from food nutrients using of a standard equation for domestic horses ranged from 0.58 to 0.88 MJ/DE/kg0.75/d, with many individuals exceeding the assumed maintenance requirement of 0.6 MJ/DE/kg0.75/d for hindgut fermenters. At values exceeding this DE intake, animals had higher than ideal body condition scores (BCS). Animals with higher BCS (i.e. more obese animals) generally had higher fecal scores (FS) (i.e. softer feces), and both BCS and FS were positively correlated to DMI and calculated DE intake. This suggests that the population studied was generally overfed, with resulting obesity and softer fecal consistency. The use of highly digestible feeds such as commercial produce and pelleted feeds should be restricted in the diets of these animals and roughage intake promoted in order to attempt to achieve normal BCS and FS in this captive population.

Title: Diet composition, food intake, body condition, and fecal consistency in captive tapirs (Tapirus spp.) in UK collections

Authors: Marcus Clauss, Tamsin Wilkins, Andy Hartley, Jean-Michel Hatt