Address: 2299 County Road 2008
Glen Rose, Texas 76043
Coco the rhino may be suffering from iron overload that causes her to have foot issues. Iron problems in zoo rhinos have been well documented and equines tend to have similar issues when they take up too much iron from their diet and drinking water. It may be wise to explore that.
EXCESSIVE IRON STORAGE IN CAPTIVE MAMMALIAN HERBIVORES –
A HYPOTHESIS FOR ITS EVOLUTIONARY ETIOPATHOLOGY
M. CLAUSS1, M. LECHNER-DOLL2, T. HÄNICHEN3 and J-M. HATT4
1. Institute of Animal Physiology, Physiological Chemistry and Animal Nutrition, Ludwigs-Maximilians- University of Munich, Germany
2. Institute of Zoo Biology and Wildlife Research (IZW) Berlin, Germany
3. Department of Veterinary Pathology, Ludwigs-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany
4. Division of Zoo Animals and Exotic Pets, University of Zurich, Switzerland
It has repeatedly been suggested that the absence of iron-chelating tannins in captive diets is responsible for the development of haemochromatosis in black rhinoceroses and lemurs. However, these two species are not the only captive herbivores whose natural diet contains significant amounts of tannins, and therefore similar pathology should occur in other species if this explanation is correct. A literature survey on the occurence of iron storage disease in captive mammalian herbivores and their natural diets reveals a certain pattern. There are no significant reports on iron storage disease in captive foregut-fermenting browsers, like browsing ruminants, sloths or colobus monkeys, but cases have been reported in most captive hindgut-fermenting browsing species, like black rhinoceros, tapirs, lemurs, gorillas, siamangs, callithrichids (though not browsers their natural diet contains tannins), hyraxes, pikas. We present an explanation for this pattern on the basis of digestive physiology. Data from an own investigation of iron storage in a random collection of zoo animal necropsies followed the same pattern. We discuss consequences for captive diets and animal management, and outline areas of further research.
You might want to email our director of animal health, Holly Haefele, on the matter. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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