Gussek, Isabel Ruth: Nutrition of giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) in captivity : Evaluation of feeding practice and analysis of rations in European zoos. - Bonn, 2016. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
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author = {{Isabel Ruth Gussek}},
title = {Nutrition of giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) in captivity : Evaluation of feeding practice and analysis of rations in European zoos},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2016,
month = jun,

note = {Compared to other zoo herbivores, the nutrition of captive giraffes is particularly challenging. They belong to the group of browsing ruminants and developed adaptations which enable optimal ingestion, comminution and digestion of browse as preferred plant material. Because browse as natural forage is restrictedly available in zoos, rations are composed of compensatory feeds, which resemble browse to different degrees and need to be combined in a most convenient way. Feeding recommendations provide appropriate feeding schedules for captive giraffes. Nevertheless, feeding practice in zoos is affected by disunity, and certain nutrition-related phenomena and diseases occur in captive giraffes. Beyond the findings from prior studies on the nutrition of browsing ruminants, it is necessary to evaluate how ration composition affects captive giraffes and whether findings reveal further space for improvement in the nutrition of giraffes in zoos. In this study, two sources of information were used. First, a survey was conducted in zoos of the European Endangered Species Program of the giraffe to gain comprehensive knowledge on current giraffe feeding practice and its potential variability. Results were analysed focusing on developments in practical feeding during the past decade and on concordance with recommendations. Secondly, documentation periods were executed in twelve German zoos, during which data on ration composition and quality of feedstuffs were generated. Together with additional data on different animal variables, which are known to indicate suitability of feeding, the results were supposed to give insight into the impact of different rations on captive giraffes. Results revealed considerable variation in feeding practice and some deviation from recommendations in approximately 50% of the zoos. Improvement was particularly possible concerning ration composition, as concentrate feeds and produce (fruits and vegetable) regularly accounted for > 50% of daily dry matter (DM) intake, resulting in a limited intake of forage. Recommendations on preferable forage (lucerne hay) and non-forage feeds (pelleted compound feeds, dehydrated lucerne pellets, unmolassed sugar beet pulp) were confirmed with regard to chemical composition and fermentative characteristics. However, especially with the choice of non-forage feeds, ‘traditional’ starch-based commodities were widely preferred over recommended, more adequate feedstuffs for ruminants. Abandoning produce from giraffe rations was clearly confirmed and supported based on the negative impact of produce on DM and forage intake. As increasing proportions of concentrate and greater dietary energy content lowered DM intake, an energy-related DM intake regulation was assumed in the captive giraffes. Consequently, less DM as possible from gut capacity was ingested, at the expense of forage which was offered for ad libitum intake. This also led to adverse effects on the behaviour pattern of the giraffes. Increasing consumption of forage resulted in more time that was spent with forage intake activity and less occurrence of oral stereotypies during observation periods. In conclusion, the adjustment, most likely reduction of amounts of concentrate feeds and produce in the ration is a precondition to realise the desired high forage intake in captive giraffes. A continuing communication and discussion of feeding recommendations and particularly their practicability may lead to a more widespread and consistent application and thus improvement of giraffe feeding practice in European zoos.},
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