• Schools Education
  • Students Research
  • Zoo or Aquarium
  • BIAZA Membership
  • Corporate Membership
Aug 16, 2013

Meerkat Nutrition


Dietary manipulation to reduce elevated blood cholesterol in captive meerkats (Suricata suricatta)

Diseases resulting from elevations in blood cholesterol are recognized in the captive meerkat population.

ZSL, along with a number of UK zoological collections, participated in a project with the Royal Veterinary College that both documented these elevations and compared blood cholesterol levels in captive animals to those found in the wild.

Recognizing the problem, ZSL embarked on a programme of dietary management in 2005. Monitoring of blood cholesterol levels were incorporated into regular veterinary health checks. The diet of meerkats in the wild is primarily invertebrates and reptiles whereas the captive diet has been based traditionally on meat, mice, chicks and eggs. Using Zootrition® alternative diets have been formulated.

These are based on proprietary complete kibbled pet diets, augmented with calcium-supplemented invertebrates, fruit and vegetables. Up until May 2008, there has been a significant (Mann Whitney test, p<0.05) decrease in their serum cholesterol levels (mean = 11.6 mmol/l, sd = 2.12 mmol/l) when compared with the control group fed on a mice-based diet (mean 19.1 mmol/l, sd = 2.16 mmol/l). Work is continuing across both sites, and additional data are being collected, to determine if further reductions can be achieved and if they can be maintained long-term.

The findings of this ZSL study have relevance for institutions maintaining meerkats in the UK. Replicates of this study at other BIAZA collections would be welcome. 



Text size A A A

T +44 (0) 20 7449 6599
E admin@biaza.org.uk

Paignton Zoo's Great Big Rhino Project has made crucial donations of cash to wildlife conservation on two continents. The Project is to give £60,000 to support work in Africa and South East Asia to protect rhinos in the wild. More

Collaborative research by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Bristol Zoological Society and the Comorian NGO Dahari has revealed the Livingstone’s fruit bat is likely to be the most endangered fruit bat in the world. 

More

New data released by WWF and ZSL (Zoological Society of London) today reveals that overall global vertebrate populations are on course to decline by an average of 67 per cent from 1970 levels by the end of this decade, unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact on species and ecosystems.

More

Bookmark and Share